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In this article, Hritik Sharma discusses how to lodge a complaint against electricity theft.

Introduction

Theft of electricity is the criminal practice of stealing electricity. It is a crime and is punishable by fines and/or incarnation. It belongs to the non-technical Losses.

Non-Technical Losses- Non-specialized losses which are caused by the activities of the outer influence framework and comprise fundamentally of Electricity Thefts and as well as by non-payment of bills by the customers.

As Due to the increment in the theft of electricity, India is on the run of losing billions of Rupees, in the year 2012, the World Bank assessed, that the electricity theft diminishes, India’s GDP by approximately 1.5%. An investigation by NDTV India also presumed that 40% of the electricity in India is unpaid.

How to report electricity theft

The Electricity Act, 2003

The offences and penalties related to Electricity Thefts are regulated under the Part 14 of the Electricity Act, 2003;

What constitutes Theft of Electricity – Section 135 of the Electricity Act,

  1. Tapping Wire: – By Causing or Making Overhead or Underground Connections(For Instance Tapping Under Water Lines or Cables); or,
  2. Tampering Meter:- Which can be done by Simply Installing or Using a Tampered Meter, or a Current Reversing Transformer, Loop Connection or Any other Device or Method which interferes with the Accurate or Proper Calibration, Registration, or Metering of the Electric Current or Otherwise Which results in a way where the electricity is stolen or wasted; or,
  3. Damaging the Meter:- Damaging or otherwise Destroying of an Electric Meter, Equipment, or Apparatus, causes or allows any of them to be at the stage of being damaged which can be the reason of interference with the accurate metering of the electricity; or,
  4. Usage:- Usage of electricity through a disturbed or a tampered meter; or,
  5. Unauthorised Use:- The Usage of electricity for the accomplishment of other means, other than the purpose for which the usage of electricity is authorised.

Punishment

  • Confinement – extends to three years, or
  • Fine – Applicable, or
          With Both of them.
  • Conditions for Punishment and Fine: where the load abstracted, consumed or used or attempted abstraction or attempted consumption or attempted use-
  1. The Usage which equals to or is less than 10 kilowatts,
    • On the account of First Conviction, the fine imposed shall be equal to the three times (not less than 3 times) of the financial gain due to the theft of electricity; and,
    • On the account of the Subsequent or Second Conviction the fine imposed shall be equal to the 6 times(not less than 6 times) of the financial gain due to the theft of electricity; and,
  2. The Usage which is of more than 10 kilowatts,
    1. On the Account of the First Conviction,
      • Confinement:- No Confinement;
      • Fine:- At least 3 times of the financial gain due to theft of electricity; and,
    2. On the Account of Second or Subsequent conviction,
      • Confinement:- At least for 6 months to 5 years; and,
      • Fine:- At least 6 times of the financial gain on account of such theft of electricity; and,

If in the case of the second and subsequent conviction of a person where the load Consumed is more than 10 kilowatt, such person shall be debarred from getting supply or electricity for that period from any other source or generating station, for at least 3 months to the maximum period of two years.

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What steps can your Electricity supplier take on a complaint of electricity theft

Any Officer of the Supplier can be given an authority on the Behalf of the State Government may

  1. Enter or Break Open and  Conduct an Inspection, or Conduct a Search at any place or premises in which he has a reason to believe that the electricity is being or has been used in an unauthorised manner;
  2. Conduct a search, seizure and remove all certain devices, instruments, wires and any other kind of article which has been or is being used for conducting unauthorised use of electricity;
  3. Examine or seizure of any books of accounts or documents which he believes that such documents will be useful for any further proceedings in respect of the offence and allowance of making of copies of the seized documents;

The Place where the Search is being done, should be done under the presence of the Occupant of that place or any other person shall remain present on his behalf and a list shall be made which consisting of all the things seized in the course of the search and shall be delivered to the occupant or person who shall sign the list.

Note: Between the Time of Sunset and Sunrise, no Inspection, Search and Seizure of any Domestic Places or Domestic Premises shall be conducted, except in the presence of an adult male member of the occupying such premises.

Punishment for committing theft of electric lines and materials

The Person is Said to be have committed the theft of electric lines and materials, Whoever with a Dishonest Intention;

  1. Use of Means:- Of the Electric Wires and Lines, Without the Consent of the Supplier or the owner, the person does it by cutting or removing or taking away or transfers any electric line, material or meter from a tower, pole, or from any other installation or from a place of installation where it is legally or rightfully situated; or,
  2. Possession:- Of Electric Lines and Wires, Without the Consent of the owner, and keeps it under his premises for his own gains;
  3. Transportation:- Of the Electric Lines and Wires, Without the Consent of the owner by loading or carrying from one place to another for its own profit.
  • Punishment:-
    • Confinement:- 3 years (Maximum);
    • Fine:- Applicable; or Both.

(2). In the Situation of Second or Subsequent conviction,

  • Punishment:-
    • Confinement:- 6 months to 5 years;
    • Fine:- 10 Thousand Rupees.

Punishment for receiving stolen property – Section 137 

Whoever, with a dishonest intention, gets any stolen electric line or material knowing or having reasons to believe that it is a stolen property.

Punishment

Confinement:- 3 years(Maximum); or,
Fine:- Applicable, or Both.  

Aiding and abetting power theft

As Mentioned in Section 150. Of the Electricity Act, 2003.

Whoever abets by the way of conspiring, instigating, or Engages with one or more persons in an offence of Electricity Theft Shall be Punished. The punishment is according to the Punishment provided in the Indian Penal Code.

If any Officer or any other employee of the board or the supplier enters into an agreement to do, or to abstain from doing, or conceals any act or thing related to the Electricity Theft, Shall be liable for;

    • Punishment
      • Confinement- up to 3 years; or,
      • Fine- Applicable, or both.

If any person Acting as an Electrical Contractor, Supervisor or Worker abets the Commission of Electricity Theft and on his conviction for such act, should get his licence cancelled by the licensing authority.

Cognizance of the Electricity Theft and Further Investigation done by the Police Authority

As the Section. 151 explains the Instances when the Police have to recognise the Offence of Electricity Theft.

  1. Notify the Police Authorities:- The Clause 1, states that the Police will notice the offence of Electricity Theft, when a complaint in writing is submitted to them by the Appropriate Government or the Appropriate Commission or any of their officer which are authorized by them or a Chief Electrical Inspector or an Electrical Inspector or an Authorized Officer of Licensee or Supplier or a Generating Company, and, also the Complaint for taking Cognizance for the offence of Electricity theft can also be provided to the Appropriate Court by the Authorised Personnel as mentioned above..
  2. Beginning of the Investigation:- After the Complaint is Lodged, the police will begin with its investigation, according to the general law applicable to the investigation of any complaint, and shall have all the powers as available under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
  3. Filing of Report to the Court:- After the Investigation, the report will be forwarded along with the complaint filed to the court for trial.

Compounding of the Offence of Electricity Theft

According to the Section. 152, a person who has committed the offence of Theft of Electricity, can give a sum of Money by way of compounding of the offence to any officer who is authorised to collect that sum of money will collect them.

Here is the Illustration as specified in the Table Below:

Serial No. Nature Of Service Compounding Amount
1. Industrial Service Twenty Thousand Rupees
2. Commercial Service Ten Thousand Rupees
3. Agricultural Service Two Thousand Rupees
4. Other Services Four Thousand Rupees

After the Payment of the certain sum of money is submitted, any person in custody in connection with the offence shall be set free and no proceedings shall be instituted or continued against such person in any criminal court.

Indian Penal Code, 1860 on Electricity Theft

In the case of Mosmat Swaran @ Swaran Manraw v. The State of Bihar, the Patna High Court stated for the Section 379, IPC, 1860 thatElectricity theft cannot be considered to be a Movable Property. Thus, there cannot be theft thereof under the meaning of the Section 379-IPC, 1860.”

It is a theft as statutorily defined previously under section 39/44(now under section 135-136 of the Electricity Act,2003)of the Electricity Act, 1910 and basically the Section 379 IPC is referred only for the purposes of the punishment that is to be given, it is not a substantive offence punishable under the Section 379 of the IPC.

Offence of Electricity Theft – Bailable or Non-Bailable.

Now, According to the Section 151B, The Offences Explained in Section 135 to 140, in which the offence of Electricity Theft is explained and the offence of Abetment mentioned under the Act, will be Cognizable and Non-Bailable Offence.

How to Lodge Complaint against ongoing Electricity Theft

In order to Lodge a Complaint against Electricity Thefts, one can go to the nearest local offices of their respective electricity providing board/corporation in your respective states.

As there are different Electricity controlling and providing board, thus, their ways of lodging a complaint is different in each and every state, Like in Mumbai, as their Electricity providing board is known as BEST(Bombay Electric Supply and Tramway Company Ltd.), they can log on to their website.

Here is the link:http://www.bestundertaking.com/en/electricity_theft.asp

Now, on the website you can fill details to file a complaint:

  • Full Name;
  • Address;
  • Building No./Floor;
  • Meter No./Adjacent Meter No./Account No.(if any);
  • Your Area of Suspect; and,
  • Any Relevant Additional Information.

Next is the Details of the informant, that means that not only the aggrieved party can file the complaint, it is for anyone who notices such thefts and can file a complaint against the same.

Here under;

  • Your Full Name;
  • Your Contact Details; and,
  • Your Email Id.

Similarly, For People living in Delhi for Lodging, a complaint, one has to log on to the website of BSES: http://www.bsesdelhi.com/bsesdelhi/powerTheftInfo.do

Now, Fill in the details as:

  • Name;
  • Contact No.;
  • Email;
  • CRN no./CA no.;
  • Mode of Theft (from the selected options);
  • Complaint Description/Address(where the theft is taking place);

Whereas, there is also a provision for the ones who will be informing about the electricity thefts to their respective power corporations/boards respectively as it is an initiative to enclose the losses suffered by the electricity board.

Recently, the Nagpur MSEDCL announced for the 10% incentive for informing about the power theft.

Similarly, in Tamil Nadu, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board has announced, about the 20% initiative to the informer from the fined amount that is maximum of rupees 20,000.

And even BEST, the Electricity board from Mumbai is providing 1% of immediate Monetary reward for the successful information given and subsequently, the 5% after the successful raid.

Details of the Electricity Boards of the Respective Cities for Lodging Complaints against Electricity Thefts.

Here are the websites as follows to report a Complaint against the Electricity Thefts;

Cities Board Name Link Contact Number
Ahmedabad Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited(GUVNL) http://www.gseb.com/guvnl/EnergyTheft.aspx +91-265-2330017
Bangalore Bangalore Electric Supply Company Limited (BESCOM) https://bescom.org/en/power-theft/   +91-9449844640
Chennai Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) No Link Available +91-9443049456
Cochin Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) http://kseb.in/index.php?option=com_contactenhanced&view=contact&id=7:vigilance-apts&catid=13&Itemid=598&lang=en +91-9496008876, +91-9446008006, +91-9446008490, +91-9446008491.
Lucknow Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd(UPPCL) http://www.uppclonline.com/dispatch/Portal/appmanager/uppcl/wss?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=uppcl_static_electricityTheftInfo&pageID=ST_32 1800 180 3002
Kolkata Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) https://www.cesc.co.in/custompages/power_theft 1860 500 1912
Pune Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd. (MAHADISCOM) http://mahadiscom.in/power-theft-winner_english_001.shtm 022-22619100/ 22619200/ 22619300

The Investigation and The Enforcement under the Electricity Act, 2003

After the Filing of the Complaint against the Person who is indulged in the electricity theft, then the Procedure of Investigation is executed:

Assessment:

According to The Electricity Act,2003;

  • Section 126,

Here Section 126 explains the duties and the procedure used for assessment by the Assessing Officer;

  1. Primary Assessment: Here the Assessing Officer will conduct an assessment of any place or premises, in which the inspection of the particular equipment, gadgets, machines, devices found connected or used, and as well as the inspection of the record maintained by the person will be done. After the end of the assessment of that particular place and person, if the assessing officer comes to a conclusion stating that such person was indulged in the unauthorised use of electricity, then he shall provisionally make an assessment to the best of his judgement that the electricity charges payable by such person or by any other person benefited by such use.
  2. Issuance of an Order: The Order for a further assessment will be served upon the person in occupation or in possession or in charge of the place or premises.
  3. Raising Objections: The person on whom an order has been served, is entitled to file any objections, against the regulatory assessment done by the assessing officer, who after giving a reasonable opportunity of hearing to such person, pass a final order of assessment within thirty days from the date of service of such order of regulatory assessment, of the electricity charges payable by such person.
  4. Deposit: Such Person served with the order of assessment, may accept such assessment and deposit the amount assessed with the licensee within seven days of service of such assessment ordered upon,
  5. Duration of Unauthorised Use: If the Assessing officer reaches the conclusion that unauthorised use of electricity has taken place, the assessment will be made during the entire period during which such unauthorized use of electricity has taken place and if however, the period during which such unauthorized use of electricity has taken place cannot be ascertained, such period shall be limited to a period of twelve months immediately preceding the date of inspection.
  • Section 127- Filing Appeal to the Appellate Authority.

  1. Process for Filing Appeal: Any Person aggrieved by the final order which was made under section 126., may within 30 days of the issued order and to file an appeal in such form, which is verified by the State Commission as well as accompanied by such fee, to an appellate authority.
  2. The Condition for Appeal: No Appeal Against an order of assessment made under the sub-section (1), shall not be entertained, unless the half of the assessed amount is deposited in cash or through a bank draft with the licensee and the evident document of such deposit has been enclosed along with the appeal.
  3. Disposal: of the appeal after hearing the parties and passing the appropriate order and send the copy of the order to the assessing officer and the appellant.

Instances where the Offenders were Penalised for Electricity Theft

  • In Delhi, On May 14, 2013, The Accused Manoj Kumar was Held liable for the Offence of Electricity theft where a heavy fine of whereby he was directed to undergo Rigorous Imprisonment for a period of three years and to pay a fine of Rs. 6.72 Crores and in default of payment of fine to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of nine months, other than this the Appellant was debarred from getting any supply of electricity for a period of one year and further directed to pay civil liability assessed at Rs.2.10 Crore, which was to be payable with interest at the rate of 6% per annum from the due date of bill, that is, 7th January, 2008 till its realization.
  • In the State of Punjab, the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), charged fine of Around Rs 1.5 crore realised on 500 households, commercial and agricultural consumers which were caught stealing electricity.
  • In the State of U.P., the court found Ram Singh, a resident of Aligarh, found guilty of pilfering electricity by tampering with the energy metre installed at his commercial establishment, The fine which was charged by the court was around Rs.2 lakhs and Simultaneously, the court has awarded a jail term of 2 years.
  • In South Delhi, Two Men was found guilty by the Court for the offence of Electricity Theft, and Rs. 25 Lakh of the amount was charged as a fine on them with an Imprisonment Sentence of 3 years.

Solution to Electricity Theft.

To curb the electricity theft, the focus is to be on the quality, quantity, reliability and the timings of the electricity supply in the rural areas.

While, the Union power ministry has also taken initiative, and they are suggesting a rationalization of the connection cost for the rural areas, to achieve the level of 100 percent metering across the nation.

There is also an introduction of a scheme named “Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana(DDUGJY)”, under this scheme they have promised to provide free electricity connections to the people who are below poverty line.

The Central Government has already been pushing the idea of using “ the smart meters”- these are the advanced electronic measurement and control devices with two-way communication between the meter and the central system.

 

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Complaint No. – 19342XYZ, Electricity Dept. Person comes every month and take money from this land Lord.
    Electricity team reached on this complaint no. After 3-4 months at 9 am (Team should have come at 9 am or night time/very early morning time) nothing will get at 9 am.
    Every month landlord is thefting electricity lots (so many thousand rupees in a month). No action is from Electricity Dept.

  2. My neighbour using without meter supply from last 5 years, after 5-6 times complaining to Adani power / reliance power executive only disconnect supply on 2nd may 2019 but same person again provide without meter supply on 3rd may. This issue I said to sr officer Mr Mahajan on phone and WhatsApp but he don’t reply anything. 5 years ago this person using 3000 RS electricity. Non payment of RS 80,000 bill meter was disconnected. Till my neighbour using free supply. Approx RS 3 lac electricity theft. This is only one person like this 5-6 other person’s also using electricity. Pls suggest me what can I do?

  3. wish to intimate theft of electricity in district mahendergarh through email. please intimate email address

  4. Non-Technical Losses- Non-specialized losses which are caused by the activities of the outer influence framework and comprise fundamentally of Electricity Thefts and as well as by non-payment of bills by the customers.

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