Distcoms, DERC, Governement Vs Citizen

     IT TOOK five years and repeated reminders from the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) to wake up the state government about providing free legal help to consumers in cases against private power distribution companies.

     The Delhi government has finally agreed to provide consumer advocates to protect the interests of the Capital’s citizens in their litigation against distribution companies (Distcoms). The DERC sent repeated reminders to the state government over the past year, asking it “to address the issue of absence of proper representa- tion of consumers’ interest before different forums”.

      “Due to power distribution privatisation, substantial litigation has emerged at all levels… Whereas parties to disputes like the Distcoms etc, are represented by top legal experts, there is no mechanism to ensure effective representation of consumer interests”, the DERC said in a letter to the government The state government says though the DERC sent letters, it was unable to spell out how this system could be implemented.

      “The consumer advocates system will be under the state government’s Power Grievance Cell, set up earlier this year and headed by Justice R.C. Chopra, a retired judge of the Delhi High Court,” said Delhi Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta.

     “Consumers will be provid- ed with advocates free of cost to fight their cases and protect their interests,” the chief secretary said.

     The government is confident it will be able to set up the office of consumer advocates before the DERC begins its hearings on the Aggregate Revenue Requirement (ARR) petitions of the three distribution companies, seeking power tariff hikes later this month.

      However, a NGO working in the power sector has dismissed the government plan as an eye-wash. “The Special Powers Courts announced by the state government have not even been operationalised so far,” said Chetna President Anil Sood said.




 Procedure for consumers grievance redressal is not people friendly a Consumers have to first go to the Distcoms with their complaints.

      The next stop is District and State Consumer Forums a NGOs say common people do not have time and resources to approach one court after the other

Lackadaisical and Indifferent Women’s Crime Cell

This is an extract from a personal report  in HT of 01 Dec 07 

A visit to the lackadaisical and indifferent Women’s Crime Cell is a depressing experience. Pallavi Polanki reports 

 I WANTED to sit down and cry. 

      A morning at the Women’s Crime Cell at Nehru Place to lodge a domestic violence case on behalf of Durga, my domestic help, left me helpless. Brutally assaulted by four persons the night before, kept at the police post till 2.30 am with a fouryear-old daughter only to be sent back without an FIR being lodged, Durga feared for her life.

     The cell, she believed, was her last defence. “We will call both parties in a week’s time. Pyaar se usko samjayenge (We’ll explain it to him nicely). Our aim is to bring about reconciliation,” said the inspector.

     Aghast, I, in my incoherent Hindi, tried to explain that the police have refused to help Durga and that she needs protection from her husband and in-laws – we don’t have the luxury of a week.

      “For immediate action, you’ll have to go back to the police. But I suggest you write out a complaint first,” the lady inspector said, beginning to lose her patience with me. Durga cannot read and write.

      A blank sheet of paper in hand, I looked for an officer to help me draft the complaint. I asked a lady officer but she brushed me off, saying: “Hum nahin likh sakte, (I can’t write)” and told me to move out of the room and sit in the hallway.

     When I handed over the written complaint, she told me it would be better if it were in Hindi. I don’t know how to write in Hindi. “Get it written from someone outside,” she said. I asked three people in the cell, but no one was willing.   

     “Hume permission nahin hai,” says one of the girls sitting in the hallway. Who was a supposed to ask? A random stranger on the road? I asked a man sitting outside. No luck. We then approached another man, and for the first time that morning, we received some compassion.

     There, with his sister for the same reason, the stranger agreed to help us. He redrafted the complaint the way it was to be written. I could not thank him enough. 

     I took the complaint in again, this time to a male officer “Get a xerox.” There is no xerox machine in the cell. So we set out again. Ten minutes later, I handed the same officer copies of the complaint. “Chai tho pee lene do (Let me at least drink my tea),” he said, irritated by my persistence.

     I snapped. I took the copies to the inspector I requested her to call the concerned police thana and ask them to register a case for us. She obliged. She stretched out her hand, asking for my cellphone. “We have recently shifted. The phone lines are not working,” she said.

 Need I say more.