New Delhi: A Delhi court on Tuesday awarded one year jail to two men for stealing power to charge e-rickshaws. Also Read - Republic Day Violence: Delhi Court Sends Actor-Activist Deep Sidhu To 14-Day Judicial Custody

Additional Sessions Judge Devendra Kumar Sharma said at present about 12% loss due to electricity theft was reported and if converted into revenue, it would amount to crores of rupees. Also Read - Court Acquits Priya Ramani in Defamation Case by MJ Akbar, Cites Ramayana: 'Reverence To Women Essential To Indian Ethos'

The court convicted social worker Rakesh and auto driver Hafiz for illegally using electricity through tapping with the help of illegal wires to the tune of 9.6 KW. It also imposed a fine of Rs 20.08 lakh each on both the convicts and suspended their jail terms till August 5 to enable them to appeal against their sentence and furnish a bail bond of Rs 10,000 and a surety of like amount. Also Read - Republic Day Violence: Delhi Court Sends Deep Sidhu to 7-Day Police Custody In connection with Red Fort Incident

“Initially, persons in authority were found involved in electricity theft. But over a period of time, the privilege of these elite class got extended to their kith and kin. Now it has spread like cancer and mass theft of power has reached frightening proportions, to say the least. As of today, about 12% distribution loss/loss due to electricity theft is reported and if it is converted into the revenue it is in crores,” it said in a recent order.

The court also directed the two convicts to pay over Rs 13 lakh as civil liability. “It is clearly proved beyond any doubt by the complainant from the cogent evidence that…there was direct theft of electricity as no meter was found installed at the inspected premises and there was direct theft of electricity using supply illegally through illegal wire connected from BSES feeder pillar which was open through red colour aluminium wires in the extensions and further 13 boards with three pin plug were found fixed.

“Further the said direct supply was being used for non-domestic purposes, that is, e- rickshaw charging,” it said.

According to the complaint, an inspection was carried out by officials of the BSES Yamuna Power Limited (BYPL) at DSIDC Park at Trilokpuri in east Delhi on October 23, 2017, wherein Hafiz and Rakesh were found directly stealing electricity through tapping. Twelve e-rickshaws were found being charged by the supply.

The illegal supply of electricity was being used for non-domestic purposes and no meter was found installed, the complaint said.

It added that a total connected load of 9.6 Kilo Watts (KW) was running through illegal wires which was being used by both the accused through artificial means not authorised by BYPL.

The court, while pronouncing its verdict, said that electricity theft was an economic offence wherein the society as a whole was the victim and honest payers of electricity charges were the sufferers on account of the proved conduct of the convict.

It said that such convicts were getting “unearned benefit” at the cost of others who are the legitimate consumers and have to bear the costs of electricity theft.

The theft of electricity not only puts the convict at the risk of his own life but also causes danger to the life of others, the court added. “One can imagine that there may be people in the country who may be genuinely not in a position to pay like the persons below the poverty line or farmers who can also come into this category at least in times of distress due to famine or hailstorm if not at all time.

“But the persons falling in the other category, that is, being in a capacity to pay, if involved in electricity theft, cannot be said to be a person in whose favour the leniency should be taken,” it said.