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pramod (Proprietor)     11 June 2010



               Dear experts,

               Please bring some light on to the following subject.

1.       Whether a lawyer has right to carry out his professional practice at a residential apartment in which he is the owner of the property and a member of the society and pays all his dues?

2.       If so, whether he can keep few associates at the same premises during the office hours where he stays and as of professional right?

3.        What are the governing laws and procedures?

4.       Are lawyers and CA’s exempted for their professional practice with regards to the point?

5.       Can the lawyer mention the purpose of 3 phase connection of electricity at his residence for residential purpose? Is this connection which is required for bearing the load of few computers and air conditioners do breach or violate residential purpose and falls into commercial?

6.        With this context where does the right of professional practice of a lawyer as of right stands?


  The apartment is situated in the state of Maharashtra and duly registered. Request to all, please help me out before I may commit any violation. Thank you all. Regards.

 2 Replies


Dear Mr.Pramod,

Electricity connection has nothing to do with one's right to practice his/her profession.  However, the question to be posed appears to be as to which electricity tariff is applicable if the Lawyer/C.A. uses his/her residential premises for  professional practice like Advocate or C.A.   The answer would depends upon the provisions existing in the  Electricity Tariffs decided by the Electricity Regulatory Commission of the respective State.  Normally,  different tariff rates are decided on the basis of purpose for which electricity is used by a consumer, e.g., industrial, commercial, residential, agricultural,etc.,

As regards use of residential premises for legal practice, the question has been by  well settled. It has been held by a larger Bench of 3 Judges of the Supreme Court that the user of premises in such cases is not "domestic", but it would fall in the category of   "non-domestic " and in such cases "commercal" rates are to be charged by the Electricity Company.  You may kindly refer this judgement in Civil Appeal No.1065/2000 - Chairman, M.P. Electricity Board &  Ors., v/s. Shiv Narayan and Another decided by the SC on 27.10.2005.

Hope, the issue is clear.  With best wishes


1 Like

D.V.CHALAPATHI RAO (Lawyer)     06 October 2013


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.





For Appellant(s)             Mr.M.L. Jaiswal,Sr.Adv.

                     Mr. Sakesh Kumar, Adv.

                             Mr. Rohit Singh, Adv.

                             Mr. D.K. Sinha,Adv.

For Respondent(s)


           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)

                                                                         Court Master

                 (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

          impugned Judgment.

                       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.



                                          (S.N. VARIAVA)            


                                            (Dr. AR. LAKSHMANAN)


                                            (S.H. KAPADIA)


      New Delhi,

      October 27, 2005.


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