| The bank branch at SK Puri. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
The Supreme Court has stayed the high court order to disconnect power to an HDFC Bank branch housed in a Sri Krishna Puri building built in violation of building bylaws.
Patna electric supply undertaking (Pesu) would restore power to the bank once the South Bihar Power Distribution Company Limited (SBPDCL) issues a directive in the wake of the apex court order.
The high court had on August 8 directed SBPDCL to snap power to the branch after Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) said the building housing it violates building rules. Challenging the order, the bank filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court.
On August 16, an apex court bench led by Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman stayed the high court order till the case comes up for hearing 10 weeks later. Earlier, the high court had asked the state why power connection was granted to commercial installations in residential areas. The reference was to commercial connection being provided to the HDFC Bank and Hotel Buddha Inn when they are in residential areas.
SBPDCL’s counsel failed to explain why it continued to supply power to the bank, violating the court’s earlier order. It only said the bank had never defaulted in paying power bills. In the PMC commissioner’s court, the bank authorities were asked to specify when the branch came up and legality of using a residential area for commerce. When the bank failed to do so, PMC commissioner Kuldip Narayan served it a notice asking why the branch should not be shut down. But supply continued despite Narayan regularly asking SBPDCL, in writing, to snap it.
After the apex court order, Pesu general manager SSP Srivastava said: “We are waiting for SBPDCL’s instructions.” SBPDCL managing director Palka Sahni said they had been verifying the order.