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Is theft of cooking gas, water pipeline & electricity theft within Section 379 of Indian Penal Code?

In our country, we always witness theft of cooking gas, electricity or people directly fixing the water pipeline with the main line. They have a mentality that they can save the money just by doing such an act and the government should provide them freely. But the government isn’t providing it freely, so they must opt for other options that minimise such cost. 

But are they aware that their act is crime and is punishable? Is theft of cooking gas, water pipeline & electricity theft within Section 379 of Indian Penal Code?

 

Section 378 of Indian Penal Code

 

Section 378 of Indian Penal Code talks about theft. It states that if any person dishonestly takes away movable property without the consent taken out of the possession of the person claiming it.

 

Essential Requisite

The ingredients of aforementioned section is –

  • Dishonest intention of the accused
  • There should be moveable property
  •  Accused takes out the property out of the possession of the person
  • Wrongful gain to the accused and wrongful loss to another
  • Property taken without the consent of the person in possession.

 

Theft of cooking gas

 

Cooking gas is considered as a moveable property. So, the court held that theft of cooking gas is theft under the preview of Section 378 of Indian Penal Code.

 

Theft of electricity

 

Avtar Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1965 SC 666

The court held that electricity is not considered as moveable property. Hence, theft of electricity is not theft of moveable property. So, it is not punishable under Section 379 of Indian Penal Code. However, such an act is punishable under section 39 of Indian Electricity Act, 1910.

 

Theft of water pipeline

 

R v. Firth, (1869) LR 1 CCR 172,

In this case, the court held that theft of water passing through the pipeline amounts to theft within the meaning of Section 378 of Indian Penal Code. In this case, the person fixed a pipeline in the main line to restrain him from the payment.

 

Punishment

 

Section 379 of Indian Penal Code states that if a person commits theft then he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or fine or both.

 

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