By Our Staff Reporter
CHENNAI, FEB. 6. The Madras High Court has declared `arbitrary' the disconnection of three telephone lines in a house by telephone authorities who argued that the bill for yet another line on the same premises had not been paid.
Justice P. Sathasivam said Rule 442 of the Indian Telegraph Rules 1951 could not be interpreted to authorise the authorities to disconnect any telephone other than the one which was the subject matter of dispute.
The petitioners contended that their lines were disconnected for non-payment of five bills in 1998-99 by another subscriber (daughter of one of the petitioners) living in the same house.
There was no rule or provision under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Rules framed thereunder which gave such `arbitrary authority' to disconnect lines without notice, that too, for non-payment of bills of some other subscriber.
Mr. Justice Sathasivam said, ``though it is stated that any telephone or telex service may be disconnected without notice, the reading and understanding of the Rule, according to me, is to be confined to the particular telephone in respect of which there is default in payment, and not to other telephones owned by others''.
Noting that no liability could be fixed on the petitioners, the judge directed the authorities to restore their telephones forthwith.