Supreme Court Reduces 18-Year Jail For Power Theft: Says "Can't Equate It With Murder"
The Supreme Court on December 16, reduced an 18-year jail sentence given to a man from Uttar Pradesh for power theft to two years, the Apex Court said that, "the liberty of a citizen would be abrogated" if this step wasn't taken. It also claimed that the High Court must already have "noticed the serious miscarriage of justice".
The man in jail, named Iqram, has already served three years in jail after a trial court gave him two-year sentences in nine cases, the court's ruling also said that that the jail terms would run consecutively.
During the hearing Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said that "If we do not act in matters of personal liberty and grant relief then what are we doing here?"
When the UP government's lawyer opposed the convict's request, the Chief Justice said: "You can't equate theft of electricity to a murder."
The CJI also added that, "The Supreme Court exists to hear the cry of such petitioners. No matter is small or big for us. We get such matters every other day. Are we going to send someone to jail for 18 years for stealing electricity?"
The man had earlier approached the High Court, which didn't agree on running the terms concurrently, thus lasting two years overall.
The Supreme Court has now agreed with the man's plea.
The man has been in jail since his arrest in 2019, he was eventually convicted in 2020 after which the court held separate trials for nine FIRs, and convicted him in all of them on the very same day.
"The net consequence of the position is that [he] would have to undergo a total term of imprisonment of 18 years," the Supreme Court noted.
However, the law under which he was convicted - Section 136 of Electricity Act - carries a maximum sentence of five years.