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Friday, January 31, 2014

Electricity Act 2003 sec.151 and amended sections sec.151 A, 151 B and Electricity -Rules, 2005, Rules 9 and 12 - Police complaint before police against accused by Asst.Eng. for electricity theft prior to amendment - challenged on the ground that A.E. is not competent to file complaint before police and complaint was to be filed only before court by competent authority as per rule 9 - Special court allowed - High court reversed the same basing on amended Act also - Apex court held that the amendment is only clarification one in nature and not against the previous law- so it can be applied and also held that as per Rule 12 and as per Cr.P.C. - police himself has got original rights to registered F.I.R. on theft whether it is electricity or other thing under Cr.P.C. , Apex court A.E. complaint is valid and investigation is also valid - and dismissed the appeal = Vishal Agrawal & Anr. …............ Appellant(s) Versus Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board & Anr. ….............Respondent(s) = 2014 (January part )judis.nic.in/supreme court/filename=41187

Electricity Act 2003 sec.151 and amended sections sec.151 A, 151 B and  Electricity -Rules, 2005, Rules 9 and 12 - Police complaint before police against accused by Asst.Eng. for electricity theft prior to amendment - challenged on the ground that A.E. is not competent to file complaint before police and complaint was to be filed only before court by competent authority as per rule 9 - Special court allowed - High court reversed the same basing on amended Act also - Apex court held that the amendment is only clarification one in nature  and not against the previous law- so it can be applied and also held that as per Rule 12 and as per Cr.P.C. - police himself has got original rights to registered F.I.R. on theft whether it is electricity or other thing under Cr.P.C. , Apex court A.E. complaint is valid and investigation is also valid - and dismissed the appeal = 

whether  the
    amendment in Section  151of  the  Electricity  Act,  2003  (hereinafter
    referred to as the Act] which empowers the Court to take cognizance  of
    an offence upon a report made by the police under Section  173  of  the (Code  of
    Criminal  Procedure)Code of Civil Procedure [hereinafter referred to as the Code], would be
    applicable  to  the  pending  complaints  filed  before  the  aforesaid
    amendment.=
In view thereof, we are of the opinion  that  the
    respondent's Counsel is right in his submission  that  
if  the  offence
    under the Code is cognizable,  provisions  of  Chapter  XII  containing
    Section 154 Cr.P.C. and onward would become applicable and it would  be
    the duty of the police to register the FIR  and  investigate  into  the
    same. Sections 135 and 138 only prescribe that certain acts relating to
    theft of electricity etc. would  also  be  offences.  It  also  enables
    certain  persons/parties,  as  mentioned  in  Section  151,  to  become
    complainant in such cases and file complaint before a Court in writing.
    When such a complaint is filed, the Court would be  competent  to  take
    cognizance straightway. However, that would not mean that other avenues
    for investigation  into  the  offence  which  are  available  would  be
    excluded. It is more so when no such special procedure for  trying  the
    offences under the Electricity Act is formulated and  the  cases  under
    this Act are also to be governed by the Code of Criminal Procedure.
    24.    In this backdrop, the notification dated 8.6.2005 issued by  the
    Central Government in exercise of  powers  under  Section  176  of  the
    Electricity Act also requires a mention.  Vide  this  notification  the
    Electricity Rules, 2005,  have  been  framed  and  Rule  12,  which  is
    relevant, reads as under:
           12    (1) The  police  shall  take  cognizance  of  the  offence
                punishable under the Act on a complaint in writing  made  to
                the police by the Appropriate Government or the  Appropriate
                Commission or any of their officer  authorized  by  them  in
                this regard or a Chief Electrical Inspector or an Electrical
                Inspector  or  an  authorized  officer  of  Licensee  or   a
                Generating Company, as the case may be.


        2) The police shall investigate the complaint  in  accordance  with
           the  general  law  applicable  to  the  investigation   of   any
           complaint. For the purposes of investigation of  the  complaint,
           the police shall have at the powers as available under the  Code
           of Criminal Procedure, 1973.


                 (3)   The police shall after  investigation,  forward  the
                report along with the complaint filed under  Sub-clause  (1)
                to the Court for trial under the Act.


                 (4)   Notwithstanding anything  contained  in  Sub-clauses
                (1), (2) and (3) above, the complaint for taking  cognizance
                of an offence punishable under the Act may also be filed  by
                the Appropriate Government or the Appropriate Commission  or
                any  of  their  officer  authorized  by  them  or  a   Chief
                Electrical  Inspector  or  an  Electrical  Inspector  or  an
                authorized officer of Licensee or a Generating  Company,  as
                the case may be directly in the appropriate Court.


                 (5)   Notwithstanding anything contained in  the  Code  of
                Criminal  Procedure  1973,  every  special  Court  may  take
                cognizance of an offence referred to in Section 135  to  139
                of the Act without the accused being  committed  to  it  for
                trial.”
   we hold that the  decisions
    of Kerala High Court as well as Calcutta High  Court  and  Madras  High
    Court in Chacko, A.K. & Anr. Vs. Assistant Executive Engineer, K.S.E.B.
    (2010) 2 KLJ 569; Biswanath Patra Vs. Divisional Engineer AIR 2007  Cal
    189; Ranjeet Kr. Bag Vs. State of West Bengal (2006)  1  C  CrlJ  (Cal)
    334; Paramasivan vs. Union of India (2007) 2 KLT 733; Kumaran Chemicals
    (P) Ltd. Rep. By its  Managing  Partner  D.  Thillairaj  and  Ors.  vs.
    Government  of  Pondicherry   rep.   by   the   Inspector   of   Police
    MANU/TN/0584/2010 do not lay down correct law and the view taken by the
    High Court of Delhi in Abhay Tyagi v. State NCT of  Delhi  &  Anr.  and
    Asish Kumar Jain vs. State of Jharkhand  (2010)  CriLJ  271  is  hereby
    approved.

26.    As a result this appeal  fails  and  is  hereby  dismissed  with
    costs.


2014 (January part )judis.nic.in/supreme court/filename=41187
                         K.S. RADHAKRISHNAN, A.K. SIKRI         

   

                                         [REPORTABLE]


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.275 OF 2014
     [Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 4857 of 2008]
    Vishal Agrawal & Anr.                         …............
    Appellant(s)
                                   Versus
    Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board & Anr.
    ….............Respondent(s)
                               J U D G M E N T
    A.K. SIKRI, J.
 1. Leave granted.
 2. A pure question of law which arises for consideration is:  whether  the
    amendment in Section  151of  the  Electricity  Act,  2003  (hereinafter
    referred to as the Act] which empowers the Court to take cognizance  of
    an offence upon a report made by the police under Section  173  of  the
    Code of Civil Procedure [hereinafter referred to as the Code], would be
    applicable  to  the  pending  complaints  filed  before  the  aforesaid
    amendment. To answer this question, scope and interpretation of Section
    151, as it stood prior to the amendment, also needs to  be  considered.
    This issue has arisen in the following set of facts:
 3. The respondent, viz. Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board  (hereinafter
    to be referred as the 'Board') is the supplier of  electricity  in  the
    State  of  Chhattisgarh.  The  appellants  are  the  consumers  of  the
    Electricity  and  getting  supply  thereof  through   the   Electricity
    connection provided by the Board. As per the Board, the appellants were
    found committing  theft  of  the  electricity  which  was  revealed  on
    23.3.2006 when the Electricity meter of the appellant was inspected  by
    the Inspection Team of the Board. It transpired  that  instead  of  the
    approved 55.204 KW, the appellants were using load of 59.810 KW and the
    meter was also tampered with. The Board made a complaint to the Station
    House Officer (SHO), Police Station,  Civil  Lines,  Bilaspur.  On  the
    aforesaid allegations with request to the SHO to register a FIR against
    the appellants on the basis of a complaint dated 30.3.2006, the FIR was
    registered by the SHO on 31.3.2006 being FIR  No.  227  of  2006  under
    Section 135/126 of  the  Act.  After  investigating  into  the  matter,
    officer in-charge of the Police Station filed the  challan  before  the
    Special Judge,  Bilaspur  who  passed  orders  dated  30.6.2006  taking
    cognizance of offence under the aforesaid provisions of the Act.
 4. Against this order, the appellants filed quashing petition  before  the
    High Court on the ground that the Assistant Engineer had  no  authority
    to make any written complaint and the  Special  Judge  could  not  have
    taken cognizance of the offence without complying with  the  provisions
    of Section 151 of the Act. This petition was disposed of  by  the  High
    Court with a direction to the appellants to approach and raise the said
    objection before the Special Judge. On that basis, the  aforesaid  plea
    was pressed before the Special Judge as well by filing  an  application
    to this effect. The contention of the appellants was  found  convincing
    by the Special  Judge  who  passed  orders  dated  26.9.2006  thereupon
    holding that since the complaint had not  been  made  by  the  officers
    named in Rule 9 of the  Chhattisgarh  State  Electricity  Rules,  2006,
    cognizance thereof could not be taken. As a sequittor,  the  appellants
    were discharged from the case. At the same time liberty was also  given
    to the Board to take appropriate action in accordance with law.
 5. The Board did not accept the aforesaid order  and  challenge  the  same
    before the High Court by filing Criminal Revision on  4.2.2007.  Within
    four months thereof the Electricity Act was amended by inserting, inter
    alia, Sections 151(A) and 151(B) to  the  said  Act  with  effect  from
    15.6.2007. The High  Court  has  by  impugned  order  dated  26.2.2008,
    reversed the orders of the Special Judge holding that as per Rule 12 of
    Chhattisgarh State Electricity Rules, the police has been authorised by
    the Central  Government  to  forward  the  complaint  received  by  the
    officers authorised under Section 151 of the  Electricity  Act  to  the
    concerned Court and, therefore, the complaint was validly instituted.
 6. Before we take note of the contentions advanced before the  High  Court
    and the manner in which the High Court has  dealt  with  the  same,  it
    would be apt to reproduce relevant provisions of the Electricity Act as
    well as  Chhattisgarh  Electricity  Rules,  interpretation  whereof  is
    involved in the present case.
 7. Section 151 of the Act, as it  existed  before  the  amendment,  is  as
    follows:
           “151. Cognizance of offences:- No Court shall take cognizance of
           an offence punishable under this Act except upon a complaint  in
           writing  made   by   appropriate   government   or   appropriate
           Commissioner or any of their officer authorized  by  them  or  a
           Chief  Electrical  Inspector  or  an  Electrical  Inspector   or
           Licensee or the generating company, as the case may be, for this
           purpose.”


           In  exercise  of  powers  conferred  by  Section  176   of   the
           Electricity Act, 2003 the Central Government framed  Electricity
           Rules, 2005, Rule 12 reads thus:-


           “12.  Cognizance of the Offence –


                 (1)   The police  shall  take  cognizance  of  the  offence
                 punishable       under the Act on a  complaint  in  writing
                 made to the police by the  appropriate  Government  or  the
                 appropriate Commission or any of their  officers authorized
                 by them in this regard or a Chief Electrical  Inspector  or
                 an  Electrical  Inspector  or  an  authorized  officer   of
                 Licensee or a Generating Company, as the case may be.


              2) The police shall investigate the  complaint  in  accordance
                 with  the general law applicable to  the  investigation  of
                 any   complaint. For the purposes of investigation  of  the
                 complaint   the  police  shall  have  all  the  powers   as
                 available under the   Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.


                 (3)   The police shall  after  investigation,  forward  the
                 report along with the complaint filed under sub-clause  (1)
                 to the Court for      trial under the Act.


                 (4)   Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-clause (1),
                 (2) and (3) above, the complaint for taking  cognizance  of
                 an offence punishable under the Act may also  be  filed  by
                 the appropriate  Government or the  appropriate  Commission
                 or any of their  officers authorized by  them  or  a  Chief
                 Electrical Inspector  or  an  Electrical  Inspector  or  an
                 authorized  officer  of  Licensee  or        a   Generating
                 Company, as the case may be  directly  in  the  appropriate
                 Court.


                 (5)   Notwithstanding anything contained  in  the  Code  of
                 Criminal Procedure, 1973,  every  special  court  may  take
                 cognizance of an offence referred to in Sections 135 to 139
                 of the Act without the accused being committed  to  it  for
                 trial.


                 (6)   The cognizance of the offence under the Act shall not
                 in any     way prejudice the actions under  the  provisions
                 of the Indian Penal Code.”


           The principal Electricity Act, 2003 was further amended  by  the
           Electricity  (Amendment)  Act,  2007  and   apart   from   other
           amendments in Section 151 of the prinicipal Act was also amended
           and provisions in Sections 151, 151(A), 151 (B)  were  inserted.
           In the Statement of Objects and Reasons for amending the Act, it
           was stated as under:


           “4.   As per the provisions contained in Section 151 of the Act,
           the offences relating to theft of  electricity,  electric  lines
           and  interference  with  the  meters  are  cognizable  offences.
           Concerns have been expressed that  the  present  formulation  of
           Section 151 stands  as  a  barrier  to  investigation  of  these
           cognizable offences by the  police.  It  is  proposed  to  amend
           Section 15 so as to clarify the position that the  police  would
           be able to investigate the cognizable offences  under  the  Act.
           The expedite the trial before the  Special  Court,  it  is  also
           proposed to provide that a Special Court shall be  competent  to
           take  cognizance  of  an  offence  without  the  accused   being
           committed to it for trial.


              1. Short title and commencement. (1) This act  may  be  called
                 the Electricity (Amendment) Act, 2007.


                 2.    It shall come into force on such date as the  Central
                 Government may, by notification in  the  Official  Gazette,
                 appoint:


           “15.  Amendment  of  Section  151.  -  In  Section  151  of  the
           Principal Act, the following provisos shall be inserted, namely:-




                 Provided that the Court may  also  take  cognizance  of  an
                 offence punishable under this Act upon a report of a police
                 officer filed under Section 173 of  the  Code  of  Criminal
                 Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974).


                 Provided further that a  special  court  constituted  under
                 Section 153 shall be competent to  take  cognizance  of  an
                 offence without the  accused  being  committed  to  it  for
                 trial.


           16.   Insertions of new Sections 151-A and 151-B – After Section
           151 of the  principal  act,  the  following  sections  shall  be
           inserted namely:-


                 “151-A.     Power  of  police  to  investigate  –  For  the
                 purposes of investigation of an  offence  punishable  under
                 this Act, the police officer shall have all the  powers  as
                 provided in Chapter XII of the Code of Criminal  Procedure,
                 1973 (2 of 1974).


                 151-B Certain offences to be cognizable and non-bailable. -
                 Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of  Criminal
                 Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), an  offence  punishable  under
                 Sections 135 to 140 or Sections 150 shall be cognizable and
                 non-bailable.”


    8.     As per unamended Section 151 of the Act the  cognizance  of  the
    offence punishable under the Electricity Act can  be  taken  only  when
    complaint is made in writing by:
           (i)   Appropriate Government, or
           (ii)  Appropriate Commissioner, or
           (iii) Any of their officer authorized by them, or
           (iv)  A Chief Electrical Inspector,
           (v)   Electrical Inspector,
           (vi)  Licensee, or
           (vii) The Generating Company,


           as the case may be.
    9.     It was the submission of the appellant that the complaint  could
    be made to the Court by  the  appropriate  Government  or  any  of  its
    officers so authorised (as other persons  specifically  named  to  make
    such complaints under Section 151 were not  relevant).  It  was  argued
    that  the  State  of  Chhattisgarh  has   framed   Chhattisgarh   State
    Electricity Rules, 2005 in exercise of powers under Section 151 of  the
    Act. As per Rule 9 of the said Rules, the persons who are authorized to
    make the written complaints were either Assistant Electrical  Inspector
    of Chief Electrical Inspectorate of the State Government or an  officer
    not below the rank of Junior Engineer  of  the  Board  or  Distribution
    Licensee. It was the submission of the appellant that  in  the  present
    case the complaint was made by the Assistant Engineer who was below the
    rank of Junior Engineer and, therefore, was not authorised to lodge the
    complaint under Section 151.  It  was  also  argued  that  as  per  the
    provisions of Section 151 of the Act, the complaint was required to  be
    made in the Court and not  to  the  police  and  both  these  mandatory
    conditions contained in Section 151 of the Act were not adhered to.
    10.    The High Court rejected the aforesaid  contention  holding  that
    Rule 12  of  the  Electricity  Rules  authorised  the  police  to  take
    cognizance of the offence punishable under the Act and,  therefore,  it
    was not necessary for the Board to file  the  complaint  under  Section
    151. The High Court also held that by adding  proviso  to  Section  151
    along with insertion of Sections 151(A) and 151  (B)  vide  Electricity
    (Amendment) Act, 2007, this position was made abundantly  clear  namely
    cognizance of an offence punishable under the Act could be taken upon a
    report of police officer  filed  under  Section  173  of  the  Code  of
    Criminal  Procedure.  Contention  of  the  appellants  that  the   said
    amendment came into effect only from  15.6.2007  with  the  passing  of
    Electricity Amendment Act, 2007 has been repelled  by  the  High  Court
    taking note of the Statement of Objects and Reasons  for  amending  the
    Act which makes it absolutely clear that the purpose for  amendment  is
    to clarify the position already prevailed viz. the police would be able
    to investigate the cognizable offences under the  Act.  These  are  the
    reasons given by the High Court for setting  aside  the  order  of  the
    Trial Court and allowing the Revision Petition of the Board.
    11.    Before us arguments  of  the  parties  remained  the  same.  The
    submission of learned Counsel for the appellant  was  that  proviso  to
    Section 151 as well as  provisions  contained  in  Section  151(A)  and
    151(B) of the Electricity Act are substantive  provisions  which  could
    operate only prospectively i.e. the date on  which  the  amendment  was
    notified and could not have retrospective operation, more  particularly
    when the provisions are in the realm of criminal law. He also  referred
    to certain judgments of few High Courts wherein such a  view  has  been
    taken. Learned Counsel for the respondent-Board,  on  the  other  hand,
    extensively relied upon the reasoning of the High Court in the impugned
    judgment and cited certain decisions of other High  Courts  which  have
    taken this very line of action.
     12.    We may mention at the outset that there is difference of opinion
     on this issue among various  High  Courts.  Kerala  and  Calcutta  High
     Court, have taken the view  which  goes  in  favour  of  the  appellant
     herein, in the following cases:-
           Chacko, A.K. & Anr. Vs. Assistant Executive  Engineer,  K.S.E.B.
           (2010) 2 KLJ 569; Biswanath Patra Vs.  Divisional  Engineer  AIR
           2007 Cal 189; Ranjeet Kr. Bag Vs. State of West Bengal (2006)  1
           C CrlJ (Cal) 334; Paramasivan vs. Union of India  (2007)  2  KLT
           733; Kumaran Chemicals (P) Ltd. Rep. By its Managing Partner  D.
           Thillairaj and Ors. vs. Government of Pondicherry  rep.  By  the
           Inspector of Police MANU/TN/0584/2010.


    13.    A contrary view has been taken  by  High  Courts  of  Delhi  and
    Jharkhand in the following cases:
           Bimla Gupta vs. NDPL 136(2007) DLT 521; Ashish  Kumar  Jain  vs.
           State of Jharkhand (2010) CriLJ 271


           Interestingly, though Calcutta High Court  has  taken  different
    view in the two judgments cited above, which are of the years 2006  and
    2007, different view has been taken in the case Anjan De vs.  State  of
    West Bengal (2008) 1 Cal LT 486 which is in tune with the judgments  of
    Delhi and Jharkhand High Courts.
    14.    Before we embark on detailed  discussion,  it  is  pertinent  to
    point out that this Court has already dealt with the same issue in  the
    case of Assistant Electrial Engineer vs. Satyendra Rai & Anr. (2012)  1
    PLJR 476 wherein it has accepted the  proposition  that  FIR  with  the
    police can be registered de hors Section 151  of  the  Act  (unamended)
    which provides for filing of the complaint before  the  Special  Court.
    The relevant portion of the said judgment is as under:-
           Though the report was made by the Assistant Electrical Engineer,
           it was pointed out before the High Court that even if the police
           had decided to file a report under Section 173 Code of  Criminal
           Procedure. Complaining the theft, the Court could not have taken
           the cognizance as provided under Section 151 of the Act and only
           a complaint should have been filed in writing by the appropriate
           Government or their officers.


           The High Court accepted this contention and held that  the  very
           inception of the case  was  not  in  accordance  with  law  and,
           therefore, the first information  report  in  the  present  case
           could not be sustained. This is the judgment  which  has  fallen
           for our consideration.


           We have heard learned Counsel appearing for the parties and gone
           through the appeal.


           Considering the position in law, it is  obvious  that  the  High
           Court  has  completely  misconstrued  the  relevant   provision.
           Considering the definition of “theft” of electricity in  Section
           135 of the Act, there could be no difficulty that in  the  first
           information report, the theft as contemplated in Section 135  of
           the Act was reported. The only question is  as  to  whether  the
           police could have investigated on  that  basis  and  could  have
           filed a charge  sheet  against  the  Respondent  No.  1-accused,
           particularly in view of the language of Section 151 of the Act.




    15.    In that very judgment this Court also categorically pointed  out
    that proviso to Section 151 of the Act  was  clarificatory  in  nature.
    This is so observed in para 9 which is as follows:
           Therefore, considering the language of para 4 of  the  Statement
           of Objects and Reasons, it is clear that the  amendment  brought
           in is clarificatory in nature and as such it would take into its
           ambit even the pending matters and in that sense it would  be  a
           retrospective amendment.


    16.    Yet, there is one more reason given by the Court  to  hold  that
    FIR with the police officer would be competent, as can  be  found  from
    the following extracts from the said judgment:-
           There is one more reason why  the  High  Court's  order  can  be
           faulted. The High Court has clearly ignored the  First  Schedule
           of the Code of Criminal  Procedure  and  more  particularly  the
           second part thereof, which is under the head “Classification  of
           Offences against other laws”. The second entry reads as follows:


           If punishable with imprisonment for three years, and upwards but
           not more than seven years, then such offences  are  held  to  be
           cognizable, non-bailable and triable by the Court of  Magistrate
           of the first class.


           Therefore,  the  High  Court  ought  to  have  considered   this
           provision which makes the first information report acceptable by
           the police in the sense that the police could  investigate  into
           the matter and if found guilty could have also  filed  a  report
           under Section 173 Code of Criminal Procedure, before  the  Court
           on which the Court  could  have  taken  the  cognizance  of  the
           offence.


    17.    In view of the aforesaid judgment of  this  Court,  conclusively
    holding that amendment to Section 151 is clarificatory  in  nature  and
    further that notwithstanding the provisions of Section 151 of the  Act,
    a FIR could be filed with the police, the  matter  stands  clinched  in
    favour of the Board. However,  at  the  same  time  we  would  like  to
    elaborate the view taken by this Court in the aforesaid judgment.
    18.    It would be  essential  to  first  take  note  of  the  relevant
    provisions of the Electricity Act and the Code of  Criminal  Procedure.
    The five provisions of the Electricity Act which are  referred  to  are
    Sections 135, 138, 151, 154 and 175 and these may be reproduced at this
    stage:
           “S. 135. Theft of electricity.


                (1)    Whoever, dishonestly,


                    (a) taps, makes or causes to  be  made  any  connection
                    with overhead, underground  or  under  water  lines  or
                    cables, or service wires, or service  facilities  of  a
                    licensee; or


                    (b) tampers a meter, installs or uses a tampered meter,
                    current reversing transformer, loop connection  or  any
                    other device or method which interferes  with  accurate
                    or proper  registration,  calibration  or  metering  of
                    electric current  or  otherwise  results  in  a  manner
                    whereby electricity is stolen or wasted; or


                    (c) damages or destroys an electric  meter,  apparatus,
                    equipment, or wire or causes or allows any of  them  to
                    be damaged or destroyed as to interfere with the proper
                    or accurate metering of electricity, so as to  abstract
                    or consume or use electricity shall be punishable  with
                    imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years
                    or with fine or with both:


           Provided that in a case where the load abstracted, consumed,  or
           used  or  attempted  abstraction  or  attempted  consumption  or
           attempted use-


                 i) does not exceed 10 kilowatt, the fine imposed on  first
                    conviction shall not  be  less  than  three  times  the
                    financial gain on account of such theft of  electricity
                    and in the event of second or subsequent conviction the
                    fine imposed shall not  be  less  than  six  times  the
                    financial gain on account of such theft of electricity;


                    (ii)    exceeds 10 kilowatt, the fine imposed on  first
                    conviction shall not  be  less  than  three  times  the
                    financial gain on account of such theft of  electricity
                    and in the event of second  or  subsequent  conviction,
                    the sentence shall be imprisonment for a term not  less
                    than six months but which may extend to five years  and
                    with fine not less than six times the financial gain on
                    account of such theft of electricity:


            Provided further than if it is proved that any artificial  means
            or means not authorised by the Board or licensee exist  for  the
            abstraction, consumption or use of electricity by the  consumer,
            it shall be presumed, until the contrary  is  proved,  that  any
            abstraction,  consumption  or  use  of  electricity   has   been
            dishonestly caused by such consumer.


            2) Any office authorised in this behalf by the State Government
               may-


                    (a) enter, inspect, break open and search any place  or
                    premises  in  which  he  has  reason  to  believe  that
                    electricity   [has   been   or    is    being],    used
                    unauthorisedly;


                    (b)  search,  seize  and  remove  all   such   devices,
                    instruments, wires and any other facilitator or article
                    which [has been or is being], used for unauthorised use
                    of electricity;


                 c) examine or seize any books  of  accounts  or  documents
                    which in his opinion shall be useful  for  or  relevant
                    to, any proceedings in respect of the offence under Sub-
                    section (1) and allow the  person  from  whose  custody
                    such books of account or documents are seized  to  make
                    copies thereof or  take  extracts  there  from  in  his
                    presence.


               (3) The occupant of the place of search or any person on his
               behalf shall remain present during the search and a list  of
               all things seized in the course  of  such  search  shall  be
               prepared and delivered to such occupant or person who  shall
               sign the list:
               Provided that no  inspection,  search  and  seizure  of  any
               domestic place or domestic premises  shall  be  carried  out
               between sunset and sunrise except  in  the  presence  of  an
               adult male member occupying such premises.


            4) The provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of
               1974), relating to search and seizure shall apply, as far as
               may be, to searches and seizure under this act.


                 Xxxxx


            S. 138. Interference  with  meters  or  works  of  licensee.-(1)
            Whoever,


                    (a) unauthorisedly connects  any  meter,  indicator  or
                    apparatus  with  any  electric   line   through   which
                    electricity is supplied by a  licensee  or  disconnects
                    the same from any such electric line; or


                    (b) unauthorisedly reconnects any meter,  indicator  or
                    apparatus with any electric line or other  works  being
                    the property of a licensee when the said electric  line
                    or other works has or have been cut or disconnected; or


                    (c) lays or causes to be laid, or connects up any works
                    for the purpose of communicating with any  other  works
                    belonging to a licensee; or
                 d) maliciously injures any meter, indicator, or  apparatus
                    belonging to a licensee or  willfully  or  fraudulently
                    alters the  index  of  any  such  meter,  indicator  or
                    apparatus or prevents  any  such  meter,  indicator  or
                    apparatus from duly registering;  shall  be  punishable
                    with imprisonment for a term which may extend to  three
                    years, or with fine which may extend  to  ten  thousand
                    rupees, or with both, and, in the case of a  continuing
                    offence, with a daily fine which  may  extend  to  five
                    hundred rupees; and if it  is  proved  that  any  means
                    exist for making such connection as is referred  to  in
                    Clause (a) or such re-connection as is referred  to  in
                    Clause (b), or such communication as is referred to  in
                    Clause (c), for causing such alteration  or  prevention
                    as is referred to in Clause (d), and  that  the  meter,
                    indicator or apparatus is under the custody or  control
                    of the consumer, whether it is his property or not,  it
                    shall be presumed, until the contrary is  proved,  that
                    such    connection,    reconnection,     communication,
                    alteration, prevention or improper use, as the case may
                    be, has been knowingly and  willfully  caused  by  such
                    consumer.


                       Xxxxx


           S. 151. Cognizance of offences.-No court shall  take  cognizance
           of an offence punishable under this Act except upon a  complaint
           in  writing  made  by  Appropriate  Government  or   Appropriate
           Commission or any of their officer authorised by them or a Chief
           Electrical Inspector or an Electrical Inspector or  licensee  or
           the generating company, as the case may be, for this purpose.


                       Xxxxx


           S. 154. Procedure and power of Special Court.-


            1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code  of  Criminal
               Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), every offence punishable  under
               Sections 135 to 139 shall be triable  only  by  the  Special
               Court  within  whose  jurisdiction  such  offence  has  been
               committed.


            2) Where it appears to any court in the course of  any  inquiry
               or trial that an offence punishable under  Sections  135  to
               139 in respect of any offence that the case is one which  is
               triable by a Special Court constituted under  this  Act  for
               the area in which such case has arisen,  it  shall  transfer
               such case to such Special Court,  and  thereupon  such  case
               shall be tried and disposed of  by  such  Special  Court  in
               accordance with the provisions of this Act.


               Provided that it shall be lawful for such Special  Court  to
               act on the evidence, if any, recorded by any  court  in  the
               case of presence of the accused before the transfer  of  the
               case of any Special Court:


               Provided further that is such Special Court  is  of  opinion
               that  further   examination,   cross-examination   and   re-
               examination of any  of  the  witnesses  whose  evidence  has
               already been recorded, is in the interest of justice, it may
               re-summon  any  such  witness   and   after   such   further
               examination, cross-examination and re-examination,  if  any,
               as it may permit, the witness shall be discharged.


            3) The Special Court may, notwithstanding anything contained in
               Sub-section (1) of Section 260 or Section 262 of the Code of
               Criminal Procedure,  1973  (2  of  1974),  try  the  offence
               referred to in Sections 135 to  139  in  a  summary  way  in
               accordance with the procedure prescribed in  the  said  Code
               and the provisions of Sections 263 to 265 of the  said  Code
               shall, so far as may be, apply to such trial:


               Provided that where in the course of a summary  trial  under
               this sub-section, it appears to the Special Court  that  the
               nature of the case is such that it  is  undesirable  to  try
               such case in summary way, the Special Court shall recall any
               witness who may have been examined and  proceed  to  re-hear
               the case in the manner provided by  the  provisions  of  the
               said Code for the trial of such offence:


               Provided further that in the case of  any  conviction  in  a
               summary trial under this section, it shall be lawful  for  a
               Special Court to pass a sentence of imprisonment for a  term
               not exceeding five years.


            4) A Special Court may, with a view to obtaining ;the  evidence
               of any person supposed to have been directly  or  indirectly
               concerned in or privy to, any offence tender pardon to  such
               person or condition of his making a full and true disclosure
               of the circumstances within his knowledge  relating  to  the
               offence and to  every  other  person  concerned  whether  as
               principal or abettor in  the  commission  thereof,  and  any
               pardon so tendered shall, for the purposes of Section 308 of
               the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), be  deemed
               to have been tendered under Section 307 thereof.


            5) The Special Court may determine the civil liability  against
               a consumer or a person in terms of money for theft of energy
               which shall not be less than an  amount  equivalent  to  two
               times of the tariff rate applicable for a period  of  twelve
               months preceding the date of detection of theft of energy or
               the exact period of theft if determined  whichever  is  less
               and the amount of civil liability  so  determined  shall  be
               recovered as if it were a decree of civil court.


            6) In case the civil liability so  determined  finally  by  the
               Special Court is less  than  the  amount  deposited  by  the
               consumer or the person, the excess amount  so  deposited  by
               the consumer or the person, to the Board or licensee or  the
               concerned person, as the case may be refunded by  the  Board
               or licensee or the concerned person, as  the  case  may  be,
               within a fortnight from the date  of  communication  of  the
               order of the Special Court together  with  interest  at  the
               prevailing Reserve Bank of India prime lending rate for  the
               period from the date  of  such  deposit  till  the  date  of
               payment.


           Explanation.-For the purposes of this section, "civil liability"
           means loss or damage incurred by the Board or  licensee  or  the
           concerned person, as the case may be, due to the  commission  of
           an offence referred to in Sections 135 to 139.


            S. 175. Provisions of this Act to be in addition to and  not  in
            derogation of other laws:- The provisions of  this  Act  are  in
            addition to and not in derogation of any other law for the  time
            being in force.”


    19.    As  far  as  the  scheme  of  the  Code  of  Criminal  Procedure
    (hereinafter referred to as the 'Code') is concerned, it  is  essential
    to point out that it  demarcates  the  offences  into  two  categories,
    namely, cognizable and non-cognizable  offences.  As  per  Part  II  of
    Schedule I of the Code, any offence punishable with three years or more
    of imprisonment is a  cognizable  offence.  Section  154  of  the  Code
    prescribes that in respect of every offence which is a cognizable  one,
    information thereof is to be given to an officer in-charge of a  police
    station, who shall reduce the same into writing. Thus, it is  the  duty
    and responsibility of  the  police  authorities  to  register  a  First
    Information Report. Sub-section (3) of Section  154  further  obligates
    the police authorities to  investigate  the  same  as  per  the  manner
    prescribed in subsequent sections and thereafter submit its  report  to
    the Magistrate, who is empowered to take cognizance of the  offence  on
    police report,  under  Section  173  of  the  Code,  on  completion  of
    investigation.”
    20.    Here, the provisions of Section 4 of the  Code  become  relevant
    which provide a complete answer to the submission of the appellant.  It
    reads:
           “4.   Trial of offence under the Indian  Penal  Code  and  other
           laws. -


             1) All offences under the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860)  shall
                be investigated, inquired into, tried  and  otherwise  dealt
                with according to the provisions hereinafter contained.


                (2)     All  offences  under  any   other   law   shall   be
                investigated, inquired into, tried and otherwise dealt  with
                according  to  the  same  provisions,  but  subject  to  any
                enactment for the time being in force regulating the  manner
                of  place  of  investigation,  inquiring  into,  trying   or
                otherwise dealing with such offences.”


    21.    It is apparent from the reading of Section 4 that provisions  of
    the Code would be applicable where an offence under the  IPC  or  under
    any other law is being investigated, inquired into, tried or  otherwise
    dealt  with.  These  offences  under  any  other  law  could  also   be
    investigated, inquired into or tried with according to  the  provisions
    of the Code except in case of an offence where the procedure prescribed
    there under is different than the procedure prescribed under the  Code.
    It is so specifically provided under Section 155 of the Electricity Act
    also. Thus, it is not a case where any special or  different  procedure
    is prescribed.  Rather,  the  procedure  contained  the  Code  is  made
    applicable for the offences to be tried under the  Electricity  Act  as
    well.
    22.    We would like to discuss here the judgment in the case of In  M.
    Narayandas v. State of Karnataka and  Ors.2004  CriLJ  822,  which  has
    direct bearing on the issue at hand. The question arose as  to  whether
    Section 195 and Section 340 of the Code. affect the power of police  to
    investigate  into  a  cognizable  offence.  Section  195  provides  for
    prosecution for contempt of lawful authority of  public  servants,  for
    offences against public justice and for offences relating to  documents
    given in evidence. It also states that no Court shall  take  cognizance
    of the offences specified therein except on a complaint in  writing  of
    that Court or of some other Court to which that Court  is  subordinate.
    Section 340 of  the  Code  prescribes  the  procedure  as  to  how  the
    complaint may be preferred under Section 195 of  the  Cr.P.C.  Alleging
    that the accused had  committed  an  offence  under  Section  195,  the
    complainant had made a complaint to the police and police had initiated
    investigation thereon. The accused/respondent had contended that  since
    the case was filed under Section 195 of the Code it was  provisions  of
    Chapter XVI of the Code which would apply and not Chapter  XII  thereof
    (relating to investigation by the police). This contention was rejected
    in the following manner:
           “8.   We are unable to accept the submissions made on behalf  of
           the respondent. Firstly, it is to be seen that  the  High  Court
           does not quash the complaint on  the  ground  that  Section  195
           applied and that the procedure under Chapter XXVI had  not  been
           followed. Thus such a ground could not be used  to  sustain  the
           impugned judgment. Even otherwise, there is no substance in  the
           submission. The question whether Sections 195  and  340  of  the
           Criminal Procedure Code  affect  the  power  of  the  police  to
           investigate  into  a  cognizable  offence   has   already   been
           considered by this Court in the case of State of Punjab  v.  Raj
           Singh; 1998 Cri LJ 1104 . In this  case  it  has  been  held  as
           follows:


                We are unable to sustain the  impugned  order  of  the  High
                Court  quashing  the  FIR  lodged  against  the   respondent
                alleging commission of offences under Sections 419, 420, 467
                and 468 IPC by them in course of the proceeding of  a  civil
                suit,  on  the  ground  that  Section   195(1)(b)(ii)   CrPC
                prohibited entertainment of and investigation into the  same
                by the police. From a plain reading of Section 195  CrPC  it
                is manifest that it comes into operation at the  stage  when
                the court intends to take cognizance  of  an  offence  under
                Section 190(1) CrPC; and it  has  nothing  to  do  with  the
                statutory power of the police to  investigate  into  an  FIR
                which discloses a cognizable  offence,  in  accordance  with
                Chapter XII of the Code even if the offence  is  alleged  to
                have been committed in, or in relation  to,  any  proceeding
                under the Code is not in any way controlled or circumscribed
                by Section 195 CrPC. It is of  course  true  that  upon  the
                charge-sheet (challan), if any, filed on completion  of  the
                investigation into such an offence the court  would  not  be
                competent to take cognizance thereof in view of the  embargo
                of Section 195(1)(b) CrPC, but nothing  therein  deters  the
                court from filing a complaint for the offence on  the  basis
                of the FIR (filed by the aggrieved private  party)  and  the
                materials collected during investigation, provided it  forms
                the requisite opinion and follows the procedure laid down in
                Section  340  CrPC.  The   judgment   of   this   Court   in
                Gopalakrishna Menon v. D. Raja Reddy; 1983 (3)  SCR  836  on
                which the high Court relied, has no manner of application to
                the facts of the instant case for there cognizance was taken
                on a private complaint even though the  offence  of  forgery
                was committed in respect of a money receipt produced in  the
                civil court and hence it was held that the court  could  not
                take cognizance on such a complaint in view of  Section  195
                CrPC.


           Not only are we bound by  this  judgment  but  we  are  also  in
           complete agreement with the same. Section 195  and  340  do  not
           control or circumscribe the power of the police  to  investigate
           under  the  Criminal  Procedure  Code.  Once  investigation   is
           completed then the embargo in Section 195 would come into  place
           and the  court  would  not  be  competent  to  take  cognizance.
           However, that court could then file a complaint for the  offence
           on the basis of  the  FIR  and  the  material  collected  during
           investigation provided the procedure laid down in Section 340 of
           the Criminal Procedure Code is followed. Thus no  right  of  the
           respondent much less the right to file an appeal  under  Section
           341, is affected.”


    23.    Thus, the clear  principle  which  emerges  from  the  aforesaid
    discussion is that even when a Magistrate is to take cognizance when  a
    complaint is filed before it, that would not mean that no other  avenue
    is opened and the complaint/FIR cannot be lodged with the police. It is
    stated  at  the  cost  of  repetition  that  the  offences  under   the
    Electricity Act  are  also  to  be  tried  by  applying  the  procedure
    contained in the  Code.  Thus,  it  cannot  be  said  that  a  complete
    machinery is provided under the Electricity Act as to how such offences
    are to be dealt with.
In view thereof, we are of the opinion  that  the
    respondent's Counsel is right in his submission  that  
if  the  offence
    under the Code is cognizable,  provisions  of  Chapter  XII  containing
    Section 154 Cr.P.C. and onward would become applicable and it would  be
    the duty of the police to register the FIR  and  investigate  into  the
    same. Sections 135 and 138 only prescribe that certain acts relating to
    theft of electricity etc. would  also  be  offences.  It  also  enables
    certain  persons/parties,  as  mentioned  in  Section  151,  to  become
    complainant in such cases and file complaint before a Court in writing.
    When such a complaint is filed, the Court would be  competent  to  take
    cognizance straightway. However, that would not mean that other avenues
    for investigation  into  the  offence  which  are  available  would  be
    excluded. It is more so when no such special procedure for  trying  the
    offences under the Electricity Act is formulated and  the  cases  under
    this Act are also to be governed by the Code of Criminal Procedure.
    24.    In this backdrop, the notification dated 8.6.2005 issued by  the
    Central Government in exercise of  powers  under  Section  176  of  the
    Electricity Act also requires a mention.  Vide  this  notification  the
    Electricity Rules, 2005,  have  been  framed  and  Rule  12,  which  is
    relevant, reads as under:
           12    (1) The  police  shall  take  cognizance  of  the  offence
                punishable under the Act on a complaint in writing  made  to
                the police by the Appropriate Government or the  Appropriate
                Commission or any of their officer  authorized  by  them  in
                this regard or a Chief Electrical Inspector or an Electrical
                Inspector  or  an  authorized  officer  of  Licensee  or   a
                Generating Company, as the case may be.


        2) The police shall investigate the complaint  in  accordance  with
           the  general  law  applicable  to  the  investigation   of   any
           complaint. For the purposes of investigation of  the  complaint,
           the police shall have at the powers as available under the  Code
           of Criminal Procedure, 1973.


                 (3)   The police shall after  investigation,  forward  the
                report along with the complaint filed under  Sub-clause  (1)
                to the Court for trial under the Act.


                 (4)   Notwithstanding anything  contained  in  Sub-clauses
                (1), (2) and (3) above, the complaint for taking  cognizance
                of an offence punishable under the Act may also be filed  by
                the Appropriate Government or the Appropriate Commission  or
                any  of  their  officer  authorized  by  them  or  a   Chief
                Electrical  Inspector  or  an  Electrical  Inspector  or  an
                authorized officer of Licensee or a Generating  Company,  as
                the case may be directly in the appropriate Court.


                 (5)   Notwithstanding anything contained in  the  Code  of
                Criminal  Procedure  1973,  every  special  Court  may  take
                cognizance of an offence referred to in Section 135  to  139
                of the Act without the accused being  committed  to  it  for
                trial.”


    25.    In view of the aforesaid discussion, we hold that the  decisions
    of Kerala High Court as well as Calcutta High  Court  and  Madras  High
    Court in Chacko, A.K. & Anr. Vs. Assistant Executive Engineer, K.S.E.B.
    (2010) 2 KLJ 569; Biswanath Patra Vs. Divisional Engineer AIR 2007  Cal
    189; Ranjeet Kr. Bag Vs. State of West Bengal (2006)  1  C  CrlJ  (Cal)
    334; Paramasivan vs. Union of India (2007) 2 KLT 733; Kumaran Chemicals
    (P) Ltd. Rep. By its  Managing  Partner  D.  Thillairaj  and  Ors.  vs.
    Government  of  Pondicherry   rep.   by   the   Inspector   of   Police
    MANU/TN/0584/2010 do not lay down correct law and the view taken by the
    High Court of Delhi in Abhay Tyagi v. State NCT of  Delhi  &  Anr.  and
    Asish Kumar Jain vs. State of Jharkhand  (2010)  CriLJ  271  is  hereby
    approved.








    26.    As a result this appeal  fails  and  is  hereby  dismissed  with
    costs.


                                   ….…....................................J.
                                                        [K.S. RADHAKRISHNAN]






                                   …......................................J.
                                                                [A.K. SIKRI]


    New Delhi
    29th January , 2014




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