The State Commission held that the electric company had been negligent in performing its pubic duty. It also held Krishna responsible for contributory negligence. So, it adjusted Rs 5,14,580 towards contributory negligence and ordered APSPDCL to pay Rs 10,30,000. Additionally, Rs 5,000 was awarded for costs.
Both the parties appealed against the order. While Krishna's family wanted the compensation to be enhanced, the electric company wanted to be exonerated from liability for negligence. APSPDCL argued that Krishna could not be considered a consumer and that the complaint was not maintainable. The National Commission pointed out that APSPDCL was the electricity supplier in Tirupathi. So, even though street lighting was not paid for, Krishna could still be considered a consumer of the street lighting services provided by the electric company.
The National Commission observed that no expert evidence had been produced by APSPDCL to substantiate how a 11 KV wire could get detached due to rain and thunderstorm. The Commission concluded that the wire had got separated due to lack of proper maintenance, supervision, and adoption of safety measures. It also observed that a higher duty of care is required for maintenance and monitoring of high voltage lines to keep them in good condition and prevent mishaps due to thunderstorms, a standard feature. This duty becomes more onerous when a high voltage line passes over a main road since it would endanger traffic, as held by the Supreme Court in M.P. Electricity Board vs. Shail Kumar.
The National Commission disagreed that Krishna could be held responsible for contributory negligence, considering the poor visibility at 5.30 am and the adverse weather conditions on the day when the incident occurred.
Accordingly, by its order of January 27, 2020, delivered by Justice V.K. Jain, the National Commission dismissed the electric company's appeal. The appeal filed by Krishna's family was allowed, and compensation was enhanced to Rs 15,43,740 to be paid along with 8 per cent interest from the date of the complaint.