The extension of the Electricity Authority network aims to provide electricity to a house or another property and it can be achieved through the consent of the District Officer if the owners of neighbouring properties, which are affected, object to the installation of electrical lines on their land. The Electricity Authority is able to apply for the consent of the District Officer under the Electricity Law, which provides that the authority can install an electrical line on or under the ground through any land, which is not built.
Before installing such a line, the authority serves a notice to the owner of the affected land informing him of its intention along with a description of the line and if the owner does not give his consent within 14 days, the District Officer may give his consent for the installation of the electrical lines either unconditionally or under such conditions or terms he thinks just. The District Officer’s consent does not constitute an executory administrative act and cannot be the subject of a recourse before the Administrative Court. The District Officer consults the appropriate local authority and conducts an investigation of all the relevant facts and circumstances, taking into consideration the owners’ objections and the reply given by the Electricity Authority.
The Supreme Court in its appellate jurisdiction examined the issue in its judgment issued on 9.5.2017, through which the constitutionality of the law was reaffirmed. In the particular case, the owners of a neighbouring plot, after they had been notified by the EAC of its intention to install underground electrical lines which would affect their land, objected and did not give their consent. The EAC applied to the District Officer who, after carrying out the necessary consultations, proceeded to give his consent.
The objecting owners filed a recourse before the Supreme Court, which at first instance held that the reasons for annulment put forward by the owners were not valid and the recourse against the District Officer was not justified, since his consent did not constitute an executory administrative act. The owners thereafter filed an appeal against the correctness of the judgment of the court of first instance claiming that no adequate investigation had been carried out and no justification was given for the examination conducted by the District Officer.
The Supreme Court held that the appeal was not justified, since the facts placed before the court of first instance indicated that there was adequate investigation of all the issues and circumstances and that the court correctly decided that proper justification was given. Regarding the allegation that the public interest was not particularised in the District Officer’s consent and the technical reasons making the execution of the works by the EAC necessary, the Supreme Court agreed that public benefit, which is served through the EAC’s obligation to provide electricity where necessary, is self-evident.
The court added that it does not examine technical issues, which concern the Administration and the task of the court is limited to observe whether the Administration carried out proper investigation. With regard to the right to be heard, the court held that the owners had the opportunity to submit their objections in writing through a relevant letter of their lawyer, which was taken into consideration, was examined and properly answered by the appropriate authorities. The court concluded that the issue of constitutionality could not be raised in the written address of the owners, however it had been examined finally by the Supreme Court and it was found that the aforesaid provisions of the law do not contradict the Constitution.