29 अक्तूबर, 2007

Amendments in the Electricity Act 2003


Amendments in the Electricity Act 2003 by the Electricity (Amendment) Act 2007 (No.26 of 2007).

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The Electricity (Amendment) Act 2007, amending various provisions of the Electricity Act 2003, has been published in the Gazette of India on 29.05.2007, a copy of which is enclosed for ready reference.

2. In terms of Sub-section 2 of Section 1 of the above amendment Act 2007, the Ministry of Power, Govt. of India, has issued a notification dated 12.06.2007, published on 12.06.2007 in the Gazette of India, a copy of which is also enclosed for reference. As per the said notification, all the amendments brought about by the Electricity (Amendment) Act 2007 in the Principal Act (the Electricity Act 2003) have come into force and effect from 15th June, 2007.

3. In the matter of unauthorized use of electricity and the theft of electricity, substantial amendments have been done in Sections 126, 127, 135, 150, 151, 153 and 154 of the Electricity Act 2003. All concerned officers are hereby advised to take note of the above amendments for necessary action. The other amendments are related to other matters of the Electricity Act 2003.

4. The special features of the amendments relating to unauthorized use of electricity and theft of electricity are as under: -

(1) It is mandatory now under Section-126 that final assessment order has to be passed within 30 days from the date of service of provisional assessment order and that the assessment shall be made for the entire period during which such unauthorized use of electricity has taken place and if, the period during which such unauthorized use of electricity has taken place can not be ascertained, such period shall be limited to a period of 12 months immediately preceding the date of inspection. It may, however, be noted that it is also mandatory now that before passing the final order of assessment, a reasonable opportunity of hearing has to be afforded to such person.

(2) It may be noted that the provision earlier in the Act, that in case the person deposits the assessed amount he shall not be subjected to any further liability or any action by any authority whatsoever, has now been deleted.

(3) The assessment shall now be at twice the tariff instead of one and half times provided earlier.

(4) In the explanation under Section 126, two more items have been added in the definition of ‘unauthorized use of electricity’. The unauthorized use of electricity shall now also include.

i. if the supply is used for the purpose other than for which the uses of electricity was authorized, or

ii. for the premises or areas other than those for which the supply of electricity was authorized.

(5) In Section 127, the person going in appeal against the final order of assessment was earlier required to deposit one-third of the assessed amount which has now been amended to the effect that he will be required to deposit half of the assessed amount.

(6) In Section 135 relating to theft of electricity, amendment has been made in Sub-section 1 (a) to include ‘supplier’ also in addition to licensee. This means there can be a supplier other than licensee from whose line the theft can take place and the person indulging in such act shall be covered under the said Section 135. The effect is that if any person indulges in theft of electricity where a ‘franchisee’ is supplying electricity, such theft has now been included in Section 135 of the Electricity Act 2003.

(7) It may be noted that in Sub-section 1 of Section 135, clauses (d) and (e) have been newly added to cover such person(s) who use electricity through a tampered meter or uses electricity for the purpose other than for which the uses of electricity was authorized to bring them in the ambit of theft of energy.

(8) A new ‘proviso’ has been added in Section 135 which provides that in the event of second and subsequent conviction of a person where the load abstracted, consumed or used (or attempts thereof) exceeds 10 KW, such person shall also be debarred from getting any supply of electricity for a period which shall not be less than 3 months but may extend to two years and shall also be debarred from getting supply of electricity for that period from any other source or generating station. As this provision is applicable on second and subsequent ‘conviction’, this punishment will be awarded by the Special Court.

(9) Under the said Section 135, it may be noted that a new Clause (1 A) has also been added which provides for :-

i. immediate disconnection of supply of electricity by the licensee or supplier on detection of theft,

ii. the supply shall be disconnected by only such officer of the licensee or supplier, as authorized for the purpose by the appropriate Commission or any other officer of the licensee or supplier, of the rank higher than the rank so authorized,

iii, such officer of the licensee or supplier has mandatory obligation to lodge a complaint in writing relating to Commission of such offence in Police Station having jurisdiction within 24 hours from the time of such disconnection, and

iv. the licensee or supplier, on deposit of payment of the assessed amount of electricity charges shall, without prejudice to the obligation to lodge the complaint in Police Station, restore the supply of electricity within 48 hours of such deposit of payment.

(10) In Sub-section 2 of Section 135, “any authorized officer “has been substituted by” any officer of the licensee or supplier, as the case may be, authorized”. This means that the State Govt. may authorize any officer of the licensee or supplier for the purposes of Sub-section 2 of Section-135 relating to entry, search and seizure etc.

(11) A new sub-section 3 has been added in Section 150 to the effect that the licence of the Electrical Contractor, Supervisor or Workers may also be cancelled by the Licensing Authority on abatement if a person is either convicted of any offence under Section 135, 136, 137 or 138 for such abatement.

(12) In Section 151 relating to cognizance of offences punishable under the Electricity Act 2003, besides the complaint in writing by the appropriate Government or appropriate Commission or any of their officers authorized by them or Chief Electrical Inspector or Electrical Inspector of Licensee etc., the Court may also take cognizance of such offences upon a report of a Police Officer under Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973. Further, a proviso has also been made 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.

(13) After Section 151, new Sections 151 (A) and 151 (B) have been added relating to powers of Police to investigate and it also provides that an offence punishable under Sections 135 to 140 or Section 150 shall be cognizable and non-bailable.

(14) In Section 153, an amendment has been made to the effect that the offences under Sections 135 to 140 and Section 150 shall also be covered under the jurisdiction of Special Courts. Earlier, the offences under Sections 140 & 150 were not covered. Similarly, Section 154 has also been amended like-wise. Further, there is an amendment in Sub-section 5 of Section 154 to the effect that the Special Courts shall determine the civil liability against the consumer. The earlier provision was that the Special Courts had discretion but now it has become mandatory.

5. What has been stated above are only the special features of the amendments relating to unauthorized use of electricity and theft of energy. It is advised that all concerned officers may go through the amendments very carefully and take appropriate necessary action in the matters of unauthorized use of electricity and theft of electricity.

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