(1.) THESE revision proceedings under Sections 397/401 of the Code of criminal Procedure Code (Cr. PC) involve decision of common questions. Hence with consent of counsel, they were heard together.
(2.) THE Petitioners purport to be aggrieved by orders of the Special Court, constituted under the Electricity Act, 2003 (hereafter referred to as "the act" ). By the impugned orders in the first set of revisions, the Special court had directed, as a condition for grant of bail, the Petitioner-accused to deposit amounts, in one set of revision petitions. In the other set of revision petitions, the Court recorded undertakings that the petitioner-accused would deposit certain amounts. These set of orders are challenged as recording statements which were allegedly not made or made under compulsion, of circumstances.
(3.) WITH the enactment and coming into force of the Act, offences under section 135 read with Section 151 were created. The said provisions read as follows:-
"135. Theft of electricity - (1) Whoever, dishonestly,- (a) taps, makes or causes to be made any connection with overhead, underground or under water lines of cables, or service wires, or service facilities of a licensee; or (b) tampers a meter, installs or uses a tampered meter, current reversing transformer, toop connection or any other device or method which interferes with accurate or proper registration, calibration of 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 of allows any of them to be so 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 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 that 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 officer 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 unauthorizedly; [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 or account 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 therefrom 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 places or domestic premises shall be carried out between sunset and sunrise except in the presence of an adult made 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. " xxxxxxxxxxxx 150. Abetment, - (1) Whoever abets an offence punishable under this act, shall, notwithstanding anything contained in the Indian Penal code, be punished with the punishment provided for the offence. (2) Without prejudice to any penalty or fine which may be imposed or prosecution proceeding which may be initiated under Act or any other law for the time being in force, if any officer or other employee of the board or the licensee enters intro or acquiesces in any agreement to do, abstains from doing, permits, conceals or connives at any act or thing whereby any theft of electricity is committed, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both. ";