In Focus

Illegal for Secretary, Manager to ‘cut off’ essential supplies

By Gajanan Khergamker

One hears about it happening all the time. However, the law on the issue of cutting out essential supplies is clear. No person, who is a promoter or a management in-charge or connected with the management of a block or building of flats, whether as member of a managing committee, director, secretary or otherwise or is responsible for the maintenance thereof (hereinafter this section referred to as “the manager”), shall, without just and sufficient cause, either by himself or through any person, cut off, withhold, or in any manner curtail or reduce, any essential supply or service enjoyed by the person who has taken a flat (or by any person in occupation thereof through or under him) in respect of the flat taken or agreed to be taken by him.

The person who has taken or agreed to take the flat or the occupier may, if the manager has contravened the provision of sub-section (1), make an application to the Court for a direction to restore such supply or service.

On enquiry, if the Court finds that the application or the person through or under whom he is in occupation has been in enjoyment of the essential supply or service, and that it was cut off or withheld or curtailed or reduced by the manager without “just and sufficient cause,” the Court shall make an order directing the manager to restore such supply or service before a date to be specified in the order.

The manager who fails to restore the supply or service before the date so specified shall, for each day during which the default continues thereafter, be liable upon a further direction by the Court to that effect, to fine which may extend to one hundred rupees.

Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force –
(a) In Greater Bombay, the court of Small Causes, Bombay,
(b) In any area for which a Court of Small Causes is established under the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act 1887, such court, and
(c) Elsewhere, the Court of the Civil Judge (Senior Division),
Shall have jurisdiction to decide any application made under sub-section (2), and no other court shall have jurisdiction to entertain such application; but in Greater Bombay a bench of two judges of the Court or Small Causes, Bombay, which shall not include the judge who make such order, and elsewhere the District Court, may for the purposely of satisfying itself that the order made was according to the law, call for the case in which such order was made and the Bench or Court aforesaid or the District Judge or any judge to which the case may be referred by the District Judge, shall pass such order with respect thereto as it or he thinks fit.

Any manager who contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1) shall, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine or with both.
The offence under sub-section (6) shall be cognisable, and shall not be triable by any Court inferior to that of a (Metropolitan Magistrate, or a Judicial Magistrate of the First Class.)

For the purpose of this section, essential supply or service includes the supply of water, electricity, lights in passages and on staircases and lifts and conservancy or sanitary service.

Also, “withholding any essential supply or service” shall include acts or omissions attributable to the manager on account of which the essential supply or service is cut off by the local authority or any other competent authority.

To avail a legal service, an expert opinion or an appointment with Solicitor and Property Law Expert Gajanan Khergamker, call 8080441593

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