The Karnataka High Court has rejected a petition which challenged the rule that makes solar water heaters mandatory for new houses. A resident of Kalaburgi had challenged the rules alleging that it violated fundamental rights — and discriminatory — as only those who build houses above a certain limit had to install them. The HC, however, found no substance in the arguments.
The petition, filed by Md Hasnuddin, a resident of Galib Colony in Kalaburgi, challenged the 2010 notification of the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commissioner which was published in the Karnataka Gazette the same year. Hasnuddin, who constructed a house on a 30ftx40ft plot, applied for electricity connection which was sanctioned with a condition that he had to submit a certificate showing the installation of a solar water heater. His advocate argued that the rule was discriminatory as it restricted the mandatory provision only to residential premises which is built over 600 sqft over a plot size of 1,200 sqft falling within municipality and corporation limits. Other smaller houses and those in rural areas are exempted. It was argued that it added to the miseries of low-income house owners.
The HC said that the Constitution mandates equal treatment of similarly situated persons and no indigenous discrimination. But there was no discrimination within a group of persons, in this case those with houses in plots 1,200 sqft and above.
The HC also said that the policy decision of the government cannot be interfered with. It said, “No doubt, it is the dream and ambition of the citizens to own a housing of their own. In the venture of building a home, installing of solar water heater mandatorily, would not in any way add to their miseries. On the other hand, it sub-serves the object of reducing electricity bills besides protecting environment. The policy decision of the government cannot be interfered by the courts more particularly, when the policy is projected in the interest of the public.”
The court said that the rule was valid as per the Constitution. The HC said that the argument that the rules that make solar water heater compulsory for new homes does not violate the fundamental rights. It said, “The process of generation of electricity is complex and power tariff is increasing day by day which otherwise can by suitably reduced by using the solar energy, with this avowed object a paradigm shift is necessary by way of imposing the condition of installing the solar water heater in the buildings. This decision cannot partake the character of extraneous consideration or discrimination in violation of fundamental rights under Constitution of India. Similarly, directing the particular class/group of buildings to install solar water heater system mandatorily cannot be construed as violative of Article 19(1)(e) of the Constitution of India.”