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i.H. Khan Vs. V.M. Arathoon and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1969CriLJ242
Appellanti.H. Khan
RespondentV.M. Arathoon and anr.
Cases ReferredAbdul Rahaman v. Emperor
Excerpt:
- .....section 203 of the code of criminal procedure. the petitioner took lease of a piece of land from opposite party no. 1 and on that land he erected a structure which was used by him as a motor-repairing garage. the petitioner asked for a separate meter for the electric connection to his garage and to that end he is stated to have paid a certain sum of money to opposite party no. 1. a separate meter, however, was not installed but the petitioner was permitted to have electric current for his garage from the meter of opposite party no. 1, subsequently, as a result of a dispute between the parties, opposite party no. 1 switched off the electric current to the petitioner's installation in the garage and it is this denial of the current that was the subject-matter of the complaint that was.....
Judgment:
ORDER

T.P. Mukherji, J.

1. This rule was obtained by the petitioner against the order of the learned: Chief Presidency Magistrate, Calcutta, whereby his complaint against the Opposite Parties under Section 426/34 of the Indian Penal Code was dismissed under Section 203 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The petitioner took lease of a piece of land from Opposite Party No. 1 and on that land he erected a structure which was used by him as a motor-repairing garage. The petitioner asked for a separate meter for the electric connection to his garage and to that end he is stated to have paid a certain sum of money to Opposite Party No. 1. A separate meter, however, was not installed but the petitioner was permitted to have electric current for his garage from the meter of Opposite Party No. 1, Subsequently, as a result of a dispute between the parties, Opposite Party No. 1 switched off the electric current to the petitioner's installation in the garage and it is this denial of the current that was the subject-matter of the complaint that was made to the Chief Presidency Magistrate.

2. The learned Chief Presidency Magistrate sent the complaint to the police for enquiry and report and on receipt of the report passed the following order:

It appears that the electric supply line has been disconnected. Mere disconnection of the electric supply without any change in the 'corpus' of the property (of which there is no dependable indication) does not constitute mischief.

The complaint be dismissed under Section 203 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Mr. Roy appearing in support of the rule contended that electric current that was being supplied to his client's installation is property in the sense in which the term has been used in Section 425 of the Indian Penal Code, that the stoppage of the current effected a change in the property which diminished its value or utility in the sense that the petitioner was thereby deprived of the illumination in his garage that he was so long getting. In support of this contention Mr. Roy referred to an un-reported Division Bench decision of this Court in Joykrishna Maity v. Dakhinaranjan Khasnobis, Criminal Revn. No. 442 of 1963, D/- 11.5.1966. There also, according to Mr. Roy, the landlord had cut off electric current from the premises of his tenant and it was found that the act of the landlord would constitute an offence of mischief punishable under Section 426, I.P.C.

3. It appears, however, from a perusal of the judgment of that case that the landlord had actually severed the electric wire connecting the installation in the premises of the tenant with the meter. The premises in possession of the tenant was found to comprise the rooms together with the electric installation and the user of electric current for lights and fans, the costs of the electricity consumed being included in the rent. It was observed in that case as follows:

Electric current in itself being something intangible cannot of course be 'property' as contemplated in Section 425, I.P.C., but if the electric installation together with the current which is part of the premises be property, by cutting the wire connecting the installation and thus shutting off the current there is destruction of property effected and the utility of the property is also certainly destroyed or diminished.

In our view when the premises was let out to the tenant obviously it was so done with the electric installation together with the current. Property in possession of the tenant thus was the premises together with the electric installation with the current. If the current is cut off by a positive act of the landlord in the shape of cutting the line, that would mean destruction of property or at any rate bringing about some change in the property, which diminishes its value or utility....

4. In deciding that case the Court is found to have taken note of a previous unreported decision of this Court in Samir Kumar Ganguly v. Joynarain Agarwalla, Criminal Revn. No. 1441 of 1962 (Cal.) wherein it was held that disconnecting the., electric supply does not amount to destruction of property and that it does not also 1 amount to bringing about such a change as destroys or diminishes its utility or value; for, as soon as connection in restored, the electric supply will be resumed. The facts of that case were distinguished from the facts of the other case and it was held that in the facts of the case under decision, the earlier unreported Division Bench decision would not apply.

5. So far as the present case is concerned, there is no evidence as to whom the electric installation in the garage of the petitioner belonged, AH that we get is that the petitioner under some sort of arrangement with Opposite Party No. 1 used to get electric current from Opposite Party No. 1's meter and it was the supply of current through that meter that was stopped by switching off the current from the installation of the petitioner, The facts of this case appear to be on all fours with the facts of Criminal Revn. No. 1441 of 1962 (Cal.) wherein it was held, as stated above, that merely disconnecting electric supply does not amount to destruction of property or to such a change in the property as destroys or diminishes its utility or value.

6. On behalf of the Opposite Parties, I was also referred to the case, Abdul Rahaman v. Emperor (1927) 28 Cri LJ 960 : AIR 1928 Sind 49 (1), wherein also it was found that mere omission to give light to a house by failing to switch on the current does not constitute the offence of mischief. What happened in this case appears to be that the petitioner was a licensee under Opposite Party No. 1 in the matter of supply of electric current to his motor garage and it was that licence which was revoked and the supply was stopped. This stoppage of supply of electric current, in the circumstances of this case, would not, in my view, amount to mischief as contemplated in Section 425, I.P.C.

7. In the above view of the matter, the learned Chief Presidency Magistrate appears to have been perfectly justified in finding that the facts of the case would not constitute an offence of mischief. The complaint, in my view, was rightly dismissed. The rule accordingly stands discharged.


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