1. This rule was issued on the Chief Presidency Magistrate of Calcutta to show cause why the conviction and sentence under Section 40, Electricity Act, should not be set aside.
2. The facts found by the learned Magistrate are that the complainant is a tenant, in respect of a certain room, of the wife of the accused. The rent of the room was gradually raised from Rs. 9-8 to Rs. 14 per month. When the landlord demanded further enhancement, the tenant refused to pay and relations became strained. Thereafter on some date the accused cut the electric supply line for the room occupied by the tenant. It should be remembered that the case for the tenant which has been accepted by the learned Magistrate is that it was the landlord who was the consumer so far as the Electric Supply Co. was concerned and it was the landlord who had an arrangement with the Electric Supply Co. to receive and to pay for the electricity. The rent charged to the tenant included the supply of electricity. The learned Magistrate held that the facts proved constituted an offence under Section 40, Electricity Act. I am unable to accept this view. Section 40, Electricity Act, provides:
Whoever maliciously causes energy to be wasted or diverted, or, with intent to out of the supply of energy, outs or injures, or attempts to cut or injure, any electric supply-line or works, shall be punishable etc.
3. There is no suggestion in the present case that the accused person maliciously caused energy to be wasted or diverted. The suggestion is that he, 'with intent to cut off the supply of energy, cut or injured the electric supply line.' It seems to me obvious that a cosumer is entitled to cut the electric supply line of his own premises and so discontinue a supply to himself, unless this in some way adversely affects the Electric Supply Co.; and that is all that the present accused is said to have done. Whether in doing so he has broken his contract with the tenant is a matter which the Civil Courts can determine. But I am satisfied that the facts proved do not constitute an offence punishable under Section 40, Electricity Act.
4. The rule is accordingly made absolute. The conviction and sentence are set aside and the accused is acquitted. The fine, if paid, is to be refunded.