The state information commission has directed the state power supplier, Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited, to provide details of panchnamas, or spot reports, filed by the power firm in case of visits, especially in case of power theft.
In the present case, the power supply firm had not furnished details of its panchnama, terming it as ‘confidential’ information.
The information panel’s order, given by state chief information commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad on August 27, could help power users by bringing in transparency in the functioning of the power distributor. This order was given after Mulund resident, Rajendra Gawade, filed a Right To Information application, seeking details of the panchnama.
It all began when Gawade informed officials of the power firm that his electricity bill was down to half the usual amount.
He said he suspected that the electric meter was giving an incorrect reading.
The power officials first told him that his meter could be kaput. However, one fine day, they dropped by to check the meter without prior information.
As procedure demands, the officials were accompanied by a witness an independent individual who comes along to give his/her testimony in the inspection of the spot.
“They alleged that I had tampered with my electricity meter and demanded money. I figured they could be doing this with other users too,” said Gawade, adding that he demanded that he see the panchnama filed by the witness.
Gawade also sought to know in how many other cases the same witness had given his panchnama and how many of his reports were against the power users.
Initially, the public information officer declined to provide information, said Gawade, citing that such information was ‘confidential’. The power firm’s appellate authority stated that the information could be given only after taking seeking legal opinion in the matter, said Gawade.
However, he claimed that he did not receive any information after that. “That’s when I filed a second appeal,” said Gawade, adding that this is when the info panel asked the power firm to part with details of the panchnama.
The information commission has asked the power supplier to provide the required information to Gawade by September 30.