Divine bestowal, Priestly denial: MESCOM’s Contempt of Court in Parable – Dr Ravindranath Shanbhog
Udupi: The Human Rights Protection Foundation Udupi has decided to file a contempt of Court case against MESCOM Udupi for denying to give power connection to a poor woman of Kundapur Taluk said Dr Ravindranath Shanbhog, President of the foundation.
Speaking at a press conference, Dr Ravindranath Shanbhog said that the failure of MESCOM authorities to provide electricity to a beneficiary poor woman even four years after the house wiring was completed as part of the Karnataka government’s “Belaku Yojane” Scheme for the underprivileged is punishable. Surprisingly, despite three courts’ investigations and orders, MESCOM officials have refused Malathi Devadiga of Saukur access to electricity, citing the excuse of a “neighbourhood dispute.”
In this situation, the victim will receive complete instructions on how to submit a complaint against the relevant authorities for carelessness in carrying out a State Government benefit program as well as for contempt of court.
Background of the case:
Mr Ganesh Devadiga, a former rickshaw driver, and Malathi reside in the extremely underdeveloped neighbourhood of Sowkur in the Kundapur taluk. This is a BPL family with two senior citizens. Malathi’s mother, Subbu Devadiga, came to this senior home almost 50 years ago. Even though the entire community had electricity, Subbamma lacked the strength to obtain it. Subbamma’s life was spent in obscurity till her death in 2010. Her daughter Malathi inherited the house after her mother died.
Malathi’s family, who had previously worked as a labourer in Mumbai, arrived in Sowkur in 2019. In the same year, they were chosen as a recipient of the Karnataka Government’s “BelakuYojane” Scheme. The house’s compound was close to an electric pole. When Mescom employees arrived to offer electricity after completing the electrical wiring at their own expense, Vasudeva Devadiga, a neighbour, complained. The officials who came to give the electrical connection returned because of Vasudeva’s objection as the electric wire passes on a portion of their land.”
The MESCOM official in charge of delivering electrical connections to every residence with a BPL card filed a complaint with the District Collector of Udupi under Section 164 of the Indian Electrical Act, seeking direction to the situation.
In April 2020, District Collector Kurma Rao dismissed all of the defendants’ objections following notice to all plaintiffs and defendants, written submissions, and an investigation. He made it clear that the MESCOM representatives should get in touch with Malathi, taking care to protect the objectors’ properties.
An appeal in court:
Vasudeva Devadiga, who got the Collector’s ruling, disagreed with it and filed a lawsuit at the Kundapur Civil Court asking for an injunction to connect them to electricity. This petition for an injunction was denied by the trial court on 16-7-2022. Vasudeva Devadiga didn’t let this order stop him, and he once more appealed to the Senior Civil Court in Kundapur. The Senior Civil Court also issued an order on October 14, 2022, denying his case. Malathi, the victim, wrote a letter to MESCOM executives in November 2022 asking them to rescind the three orders mentioned above, but they never replied.
Complaint to Foundation:
The victim got in touch with the Human Rights Protection Foundation, Udupi in December 2022. Separate letters were sent to the lower and top officials of MESCOM demanding that Malathi be granted an electricity connection immediately. All of the documents provided by Malathi were sealed. The lower officers of MESCOM have been writing letters to the upper and the upper to the lower while washing their hands for the past ten months, but no one has stepped forward to give the electricity connection.
The foundation will provide full cooperation to victim Malati to form a public opinion against this injustice and to file a contempt of court case. Efforts will be made to recover every single rupee unnecessarily spent by Malathi in the above three cases from those responsible to ensure that no such injustice is done by any officer in the future.
Citizens enjoy an unquestionable right:
The Foundation has witnessed several instances like this over the past 43 years. Since the land in our community is unequal, it is unavoidable that it will be arbitrarily divided into portions. Electric cables are frequently used to link each shareholder to the electrical grid while crossing a tiny patch of other people’s property. In such situations, it is the responsibility of the authorities to request a letter of consent from the neighbours before getting in touch with them. In the event of disagreement, a complaint should be made to the District Collector’s Court and guidance should be requested. In these situations, the District Collector investigates and determines if the neighbour’s filed objection is valid. Once the adjudication ruling is acquired, it is the officers’ responsibility to follow it to the letter. Disobeying such instructions would be considered contempt of court, and the relevant authorities would face a penalty.
MESCOM officials are still waiting, but for whom and why?
Malathi, the victim in this situation, has been awarded three judgements in her favour. Failure of MESCOM personnel to comply with these instructions is not only contempt of court but also carelessness in the implementation of a government benefit plan.
In this situation, what was the level of negligence? Why? Let us investigate. Malathi’s residence was wired at her own expense four years ago. MESCOM officials could have provided an electrical connection in less than half an hour. On April 18, 2022, the Collector ordered that communication be made following the investigation. There was the possibility of an immediate connection. The opponents sought an injunction from the Civil Court on May 9, 2022 (twenty-one days later). Why was the connection not given until then? After the civil court denied the injunction, he had fifteen days to file an appeal in the higher court. Why couldn’t the authorities grant an electrical connection even then? Even nine months after the judgment was rendered, the court has yet to respond. Who else, and why are MESCOM representatives waiting? What do all of these incidents imply?
When Mr HK Patil, the law minister, recently paid a visit to our foundation’s office, he advised that if incidents of fraud or bribery in the implementation of government assistance programs are discovered, they should be brought to his immediate attention. A full report on this case has already been provided.