February 15, 2021 12:57:22 am
A Thane court has ordered hefty fines and imprisonment in three cases of electricity theft. The court observed that the accused should be made to pay double the theft amount committed as a ‘civil liability’.
In the most recent case in which the court gave its order last week, a 58-year-old man was sentenced to a fine of Rs 19 lakh along with two years imprisonment for electricity theft in a factory in Bhiwandi over 12 years ago.
“…since last twelve years the accused kept denying allegations and matter is prolonged till today. Under such circumstances the fine cannot be less than three times of the amount of theft of electricity,” the court said. It said the assessment of theft has to be taken into consideration to fix a civil liability to be paid to the electricity company.
In the past month, the court in similar orders directed a 38-year-old operating a factory in Wada to pay a fine of Rs 31 lakh and the owner of a plastic processing plant in Bhiwandi to pay a fine of Rs 23 lakh. Both were also sentenced to two years in jail after being found guilty under the Electricity Act.
In the most recent order last week, a complaint was filed by power company, Torrent Power Ltd. One of its vigilance officers had visited a factory in Bhiwandi area in 2008. An underground cable was found to supply electricity to various equipment illegally. The company claimed an assessment had shown that between May 2007 and March 2008, a theft of over 94,000 units valued at Rs 6.32 lakh was committed.
The accused, Moinuddin Shaikh, who had rented the premises to the unit, was arrested. While he denied he was in-charge of the premises, the court took into consideration a rent agreement showing Shaikh as the person who had rented the premises. In the previous cases as well, the court took into consideration the economic gain made by the accused through non-payment for use of electricity supply.
A criminal offence, many cases of electricity theft are decided by Lok Adalats or an alternative dispute resolution hearing conducted periodically. In these hearings, an opportunity is given to the accused to dispose of the case through payment of dues to the power companies.
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