ITEM NO.102 COURT NO.4 SECTION IV
S U P R E M E C O U R T O F I N D I A
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
CIVIL APPEAL NO(s). 1065 OF 2000
CHAIRMAN,M.P. ELECTRICITY BOARD AND ORS. Appellant
SHIV NARAYAN AND ANR. Respondent
(With office report )
Date: 27/10/2005 This Appeal was called on for hearing today.
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE S.N. VARIAVA
HON'BLE DR. JUSTICE AR. LAKSHMANAN
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE S.H. KAPADIA
For Appellant(s) Mr.M.L. Jaiswal,Sr.Adv.
Mr. Sakesh Kumar, Adv.
Mr. Rohit Singh, Adv.
Mr. D.K. Sinha,Adv.
UPON hearing counsel the Court made the following
O R D E R
The appeal is allowed in terms of the signed order.
There will no order as to costs.
Sukhwinder (Jasbir Singh)
(Signed order is placed on the file)
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1065 OF 2000
CHAIRMAN, M.P.ELECTRICITY BOARD & ORS. Appellant (s)
SHIV NARAYAN & ANR. Respondent (s)
O R D E R
The Respondent has remained absent even though served and inspite of notice
from this Court.
This Appeal is against the Judgment of the M.P. High Court dated 6th May,
Briefly stated the facts are as follows:-
The Appellants are a statutory Corporation constituted under Section 5 of the
Electricity (Supply) Act of 1948. The Respondent owns residential premises. He had let
out a portion of the premises to an advocate. Initially the advocate was residing in the
premises and also running a small office in a portion of those premises. Thereafter, the
advocate moved his residence to some other place but continued his office in those
premises. The Appellants, therefore, levied charges on commecial basis. The respondents
filed a writ petition for quashing the demand. That writ petition has been allowed by the
When this matter reached before this Court on 24th August, 2005, a Bench of
this Court did not agree with the following view expressed by this Court in the case of
New Delhi Municipal Council v. Sohal Lal Sachdev [2002 (2) SCC 494]:
"The two terms "domestic and "commercial" are not defined in the
Act or the Rules. Therefore, the expressions are to be given the common
parlance meaning and must be understood in their natural, ordinary and
popular sense. In interpreting the phrases the context in which they are used
is also to be kept in mind. In Stroud's Judicial Dictionary (5th Edn.) the term
"commercial" is defined as "traffic, trade or merchandise in buying and
selling of goods". In the said dictionary the phrase "domestic purpose" is
stated to mean use for personal residential purposes. In essence the question
is, what the character of the purpose of user of the premises by the owner or
landlord is and not the character of the place of user. For example, running a
boarding house is a business, but persons in a boarding house may use water
for "domestic purposes. As noted earlier the classification made for the
purpose of charging electricity duty by NDMC sets out the categories
"domestic" user, as contra distinguished from "commercial" user or to put it
differently "non-domestic user". The intent and purpose of the classifications
as we see it, is to make a distinction between purely "private residential
purpose" as against commercial purpose. In the case of a "guest house", the
building is used for providing accommodation to "guests" who may be
travellers, passengers, or such temporarily for the purpose of their stay on
payment of the charges. The use for which the building is put by the keeper
of the guest house, in the context cannot be said to be for purely residential
purpose. Then the question is, can the use of the premises be said to be for
"commercial purposes"? Keeping in mind the context in which the phrases
are used and the purpose for which the classification is made, it is our
considered view that the question must be answered in the affirmative. It is
the user of the premises by the owner (not necessarily absolute owner) which
is relevant for determination of the question and not the purpose of which
the guest or occupant of the guest house uses electric energy. In the broad
classification as is made in the Rules, different types of user which can
reasonably be grouped together for the purpose of understanding the two
phrases "domestic" and "commercial" is to be made. To a certain degree
there might be overlapping, but that has to be accepted in the context of
The Bench therefore referred the matter for consideration by a Larger Bench.
Thus the matter is before us.
We have heard Mr. M.L. Jaiswal, learned senior counsel for the Appellant. We
have perused the Circulars and seen the Tariff entries under which the levy has been
made. We find that the Tariff entry classificates into two categories viz. (a) "domestic
purposes" and (b) "commercial and non-domestic purposes". This classification has been
done statutorily in exercise of powers under Section 49 of the Electricity Supply Act, 1948.
The classification clubs "commercial and non domestic purposes" into one category.
Thus the question whether an Advocate can be said to be carrying on a commercial
activity does not arise for consideration. As the user is admittedly not "domestic" it
would fall in the category of "commercial and non-domestic". In such cases even for "non-
domestic" use the commercial rates are to be charged. Exclusively running an office is
clearly a "non-domestic" use.
Thus, in our view the Judgment of this Court in Sohan Lal Sachdev is correct
and requires no reconsideration.
We clarify that we have not gone into the question as to whether or not an
advocate can be said to be carrying on commercial activity.
We, therefore, set aside the impugned Judgment and allow the Appeal. There
will no order as to costs.
(Dr. AR. LAKSHMANAN)
October 27, 2005.