The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Court grants bail to power theft accused

Jamshedpur/Ranchi, Feb. 22: People accused by the state electricity board of stealing power worth Rs 20 crore cannot be arrested. For, Jharkhand High Court has granted them bail.

Nor they will have to deposit one-fourth of the penalty imposed on them, as the court has exempted them.

The power connection of the three industrial units in Ghatshila-Chakulia area, against whom allegations of power theft were levelled, would also be restored.

A month ago, the Singhbhum circle of the Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) had claimed to have detected massive power theft by the three units. They had claimed to have stumbled upon tell-tale evidence of corrupt practices and having discovered the modus operandi of stealing power by “hooking”.

Even as all the three “industrialists” happened to reside in the steel city, police refused to act against them. Nor was the JSEB quite anxious to see them behind the bars. The court order has now prompted the suspicion that the people who appeared to be “guilty” barely four weeks ago are actually innocent.

Power supply was restored today to Himadri Steel and the board was in the process of restoring power to the other two mini steel plants.

General manager-cum-chief engineer at JSEB’s Jamshedpur area board P.R. Ranjan told The Telegraph that the power board would appeal against the judgment soon. The claim lacked conviction or credibility because the JSEB apparently did not oppose the bail plea in the high court.

JSEB engineers had claimed to have a cast-iron case against two of the three units because they were caught tapping power from overhead wires. The third was found to be stealing power by tampering the meter. An FIR was lodged at the Chakulia police station by an assistant engineer and power supply was disconnected.

It is not, however, clear if the JSEB was represented in the court and whether the court was apprised of the facts and evidence.

The three industrial units are not the only ones to have obtained relief from the high court. An industrial unit of Gamharia had also been found stealing power and a penalty of Rs 2.4 crore was imposed on it by the JSEB. But the unit moved the high court and secured similar relief.

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