Pat HC | Indian Telegraph Act, 1885: Telegraph authority empowered to place wires upon any property – owner can claim compensation for damage caused

Patna High Court: The Bench of Mohit Kumar Shah, J. hearing a civil writ petition against power distribution company, allowed the affected party to claim compensation from the company for damage caused to its property owing to the layout of electric wires.

The present petition prayed for a command to the respondent to shift an 11,000-voltage of live wire passing over the residential house of the petitioner, as the same had been hanged without his permission. The respondents opposed the same stating that the electric wire had been laid about twenty years prior to the construction of petitioner’s house but no objection was raised by the petitioner at the time of laying the wire. Moreover, the wire passed by the side of the house over an asbestos shed. Further, about 9000 consumers were being benefited by the electricity in question and there was no feasibility for shifting the line.

The Court followed law laid down by the Apex Court in the case of Power Grid Corpn. of India Ltd. v. Century Textiles and Industries Ltd., (2017) 5 SCC 143 wherein it was held that Section 10 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 empowers the telegraph authority to place and maintain a telegraph line under, over, along or across and posts in or upon any immovable property; and in doing so, the government acquires only a right of user in the said property. The authority is obliged to ensure that it causes as little damage as possible and if any damage is caused by exercise of those powers, it is obliged to pay full compensation to the affected party for the damage sustained.

Accordingly, the petition was disposed of with the consent of parties with liberty to the petitioner to avail remedies as available to him under the aforesaid judgment. [Sanjay Kumar v. North Bihar Power Distribution Company Ltd., 2018 SCC OnLine Pat 2317, Order dated 05-12-2018]

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