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Emperor Vs. Gordhandas Nathalal Patel - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectElectricity;Criminal
CourtMumbai
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Appeals Nos. 4 and 5
Judge
Reported inAIR1943Bom76; (1942)44BOMLR800
AppellantEmperor
RespondentGordhandas Nathalal Patel
Excerpt:
.....the wires in a new installation with other wires for the purpose of communicating with the works of an electricity company. it includes the householder who gives instructions to connect up, the contractor, if any, through whom those instructions are transmitted to the workman, and the workman who actually does the work.;hence, a person who erects a mandap near his house and. employs a contractor or workman to connect up its supply line with the metre in his house without the permission of the electricity company, is guilty of an offence under section 44(6) of the act. - - 4. the learned additional sessions judge agreed with the trial magistrate in construing the section in that sense, that is to say, construing the words 'for the purpose of communicating' as including indirect..........consists in connecting up any works, that is in this case supply-lines in the mandap, not to any works of a licensee, but for the purpose of communicating with any works belonging to a licensee; and it is obvious that the purpose of connecting the supply-lines in the mandap with the metre in the house was to communicate with the generating station of the licensee so as to secure a supply of current. i have no doubt, therefore, that an offence was committed under section 44 (b), so far as that point is concerned.4. the learned additional sessions judge agreed with the trial magistrate in construing the section in that sense, that is to say, construing the words 'for the purpose of communicating' as including indirect communication as well as direct communication. but the learned.....
Judgment:

John Beaumont, C.J.

1. These are two appeals presented by the Government of Bombay against acquittal by the Additional Sessions Judge of Ahmedabad of the two accused who had been convicted by the trial Court of an offence under Section 44 (b) of the Indian Electricity Act, 1910.

2. The relevant facts are that accused No. 1 is a registered consumer of electricity, and accused No. 2 is an electrical wiring contractor. Accused No. 1 owns a house in Ahmedabad, which is supplied, with electric current by the Ahmedabad Electricity Company, which is a licensee under the Indian Electricity Act. Accused No. 1 had erected a mandap in his compound in connection with a marriage ceremony, and electric current had been supplied to that mandap with the consent of the licensee from March 9 to 11, 1940, but on March 12 the supply to the mandap had been disconnected. On the 14th some of the lights in the mandap were connected up with the installation in accused No. 1's house, and it is suggested that that connection constituted an offence under Section 44(b) of the Indian Electricity Act. That Sub-section makes it an offence, if any person 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. 'Wciks' are defined in Section 2(n) as including electric supply-lines and any buildings, machinery or apparatus required to supply energy and to carry into effect the objects of a license granted under Part II.

3. The first point taken on behalf of accused No. 1 is that no offence was committed, because he only connected up his supply-lines in the mandap with his own metre in the house. But the offence under Section 44 (b) consists in connecting up any works, that is in this case supply-lines in the mandap, not to any works of a licensee, but for the purpose of communicating with any works belonging to a licensee; and it is obvious that the purpose of connecting the supply-lines in the mandap with the metre in the house was to communicate with the generating station of the licensee so as to secure a supply of current. I have no doubt, therefore, that an offence was committed under Section 44 (b), so far as that point is concerned.

4. The learned Additional Sessions Judge agreed with the trial Magistrate in construing the section in that sense, that is to say, construing the words 'for the purpose of communicating' as including indirect communication as well as direct communication. But the learned Additional Sessions Judge differed from the trial Court in that he thought that the only person committing the offence was the actual workman who connected up the works. He notes' that the opening words of the Sub-section are 'lays, or causes to be laid,' which include the man who actually lays and the man who gives instructions to lay. As there is no reference to 'causing to be connected up', he thinks that the words 'connects up' must be read as extending only to the man who actually does the physical work. Accordingly he held that the only man liable in this case would be the mechanic who connected up the wires in the mandap with the metre in the house, though I suppose that the hand which finally caused the connection between the supply system in the mandap and the generating station of the electricity company was the person who turned on the switch and caused the final connection. The learned Judge recognized that in so construing the Sub-section he was reducing it to a nullity for practical purposes. The construction placed by the learned Judge on the words 'connects up' has not been supported by counsel for the accused, and, in my view, cannot be supported. The expression 'connects up' is not a term of art, and I have no doubt that it embraces the whole process of connecting the wires in the mandap with other wires for the purpose of communicating with the works of the licensee. According to the ordinary use of the English language, a householder who intends to light a shamiana in his garden from the lighting system in his house would say that he was going to light the mandap by connecting the lighting system in the shamiana with that in the house. Nobody would think that he was speaking inaccurately unless he intended to perform the actual operation himself. I have no doubt that the expression 'connects up' in Section 44(b) includes the householder who gives instructions to connect up, the contractor, if any, through whom those instructions are transmitted to the workman, and the workman who actually does the work, and I have no doubt that in this case accused No. 1 is guilty. Unquestionably the connection was made on his instructions as the owner of the house and the mandap.

5. There is, 1 think, a considerable amount of doubt as to whether accused No. 2 is guilty. He is an electrical contractor of standing, and is perfectly well aware of the requirements under the Indian Electricity Act. It would appear that accused No. 1 asked him to see that six lights in the mandap were not disconnected, and he says that he asked the company not to disconnect them, but as the evidence is that the company did disconnect them, and they were subsequently reconnected, it is necessary to show that accused No. 2 as the contractor was responsible for the reconnecting, and, in my view, the evidence does not show that.

6. We allow the appeal of Government against accused No. 1, and restore the conviction and sentence of the trial. Court. We dismiss the appeal against accused No. 2.

Wassoodew, J.

7. I agree.


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