N.J. Wadia, J.
1. This is an application in revision against a conviction of the accused by the Presidency Magistrate, Third Court, Bombay, under Section 44(b) of the Indian Electricity Act, and Rule 31(2) read with Rule 122(a) of the Indian Electricity Rules, 1937. The applicant, accused No. 2, is an electrical contractor and engineer. Accused No. 1, who is not before us, was the owner of a building in Kolbhat Lane. The Bombay Electric Supply and Tramways Company had been supplying electricity to the building, and on March 4, 1937, accused No. 1, the owner of the building, sent a requisition to the company asking for an estimate for the work of shifting the meter board from its old position on the verandah to a new position. The company sent an estimate of Rs. 112. This estimate was considered excessive by both the accused, and, on May 21, 1937, another letter was sent to the company who repeated their former estimate. Accused No. 2, the contractor, then had an interview with the Assistant Manager of the company and asked for a reduction of the estimate which the company refused to make. The first accused then wrote a letter to the company on September 21, 1937, in which he stated that as they were not prepared to be reasonable, he gave them forty-eight hours' notice under Section 44 of the Indian Electricity Act and a similar notice under Rule 29 of the Indian Electricity Rules that he would break the seals, remove the meter board and reconnect it in the new position. The accused then got the meter board removed to the new position, accused No. 2 doing the work as contractor. The Company, thereupon, prosecuted them under Section 44(a) of the Act, and Rule 31 of the Indian Electricity Rules, 1937. The learned Magistrate has held that both the accused were guilty under Section 44(b), and under Rule 31(1) read with Rule 122(a), and has convicted them. Accused No. 2 has applied in revision.
2. Section 44(b) of the Act provides that whoever lays or causes to be laid, or connects up any works for the purpose of communicating with any other works belonging to a licensee, without such licensee's consent, shall be liable to a certain penalty. The case of the prosecution was that the accused removed the meter from the old position in which it was placed, after breaking the seals placed on the meter by the company, to a new position about thirty feet further away, and extended the Company's service line from where it had originally ended at the meter to the place' where it entered the meter in its new position. The learned Counsel for the applicant contends that the act of the accused does not amount to any offence under Section 44(b) of the Act inasmuch as the new wiring which he laid did not connect up any work belonging to the licensee Company with any other work belonging to the Company. Section 44(b) does not require that the 'works' laid or connected up with any other 'works' belonging to the licensee must also be 'works' belonging to the licensee. In fact it is obvious that the section could not mean that, since it would be impossible for anybody but the licensee to lay a new work belonging to the licensee. 'Works' as defined in Section 2(n) of the Act includes electric supply-lines. Under Rule 35 of the Indian Electricity Rules, 1937, read with Section 19A of the Act, the point at which the supply of energy by a licensee to a consumer shall be deemed to commence, where the amount supplied is ascertained by meter, is the point at which the conductor enters the meter. 'Electric supply line' is denned in Section 2(f) of the Act as meaning a wire, conductor or other means used for conveying, transmitting or distributing energy. The supply line, therefore, up to the point at which it enters the meter comes within the meaning of 'works' as defined in Section 2(n). That being so the applicant in laying the additional line from the former position of the meter up to its new position was laying 'works' within the meaning of Section 4(b), and he laid that line for the purpose of connecting it with other works belonging to the licensee, namely, the old supply line which terminated at the original position of the meter. His act, therefore, in our opinion, clearly amounted to an offence within the meaning of Section 44(6).
3. In carrying out the work of removing the meter from its old position to its new one, the accused broke open the seals which had been placed by the Company upon the meter, and his act clearly amounted to an offence under Rule 31(1) of the Indian Electricity Rules. That rule provides that a licensee may affix one or more seals to any meter placed upon a consumer's premises in accordance with Rule 40 and no person other than the licensee shall break any such seal. It is contended that Section 26, Clause (5), permits a consumer to do this, that Rule 31 conflicts with this section, and where there is a conflict between a rule and a section of the Act the section ought to prevail. Section 26(5) does not deal with the breaking of the seals placed on a meter. Section 26(1) deals with the providing of meters, and Clause (5) says that a consumer shall not connect any meter referred to in Sub-section (1) with any electric supply line through which energy is supplied by a licensee, or disconnect the same from any such electric supply line, without giving to the licensee not less than forty-eight hours' notice in writing of his intention. The clause deals with a case of connecting a new meter with the Company's supply line. Clause (1) provides that the consumer is not bound to take the Company's meter and may provide his own, and in a case of that sort there would be no question of breaking the seals of the meter since no seals would be placed by the Company on the meter till after it had been connected. Rule 31 therefore does not deal with cases which Section 26(5) contemplates. The rule deals with the tampering with the seals placed on a meter which is already working. There is therefore no conflict between Rule 31 and Section 26, Sub-section (5), and the applicant's act clearly did not fall within the purview of Section 26(5). He did not merely connect a new meter with the existing supply line of the company, but removed a meter which had already been sealed by the Company, by breaking open its seals, and altered its position by extending the supply line of the company and then fixing the meter in a new position. His act in our opinion clearly amounted to a breach of Rule 31. The conviction of the accused both under Section 44(b) and Rule 31(1) read with Rule 122(a) was, therefore, correct.
4. The application is dismissed and the rule discharged.