Govt changing laws to stop electricity theft: Balighur Rehman

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Interior and Narcotics Control Balighur Rehman here on Tuesday said the government had introduced amendments in law to stop electricity theft.

Speaking during a meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control, he said the amendments would remove lacunas which made it difficult to counter huge power theft.

The state minister told the committee that thousands of cases were filed in the past against electricity theft but hardly anybody was convicted but the new law would convict more power thieves.

He said there was a dire need to improve the mechanism to reduce line losses and theft and the PML-N government had been working on a comprehensive plan to achieve this goal.

The committee was briefed by the Secretary Interior that the Ministry of Water and Power had proposed changes in law to counter the electricity theft.

23,000 FIRs were registered from 2012 to 2013 on charges of electricity theft but only three convictions were made, he said adding 15 billion electricity units were lost resulting in loss of Rs 90 billion to the country, he added.

The meeting was attended by Senators Mukhtar Ahmed Dhamrah, Sardar Ali Khan, Mohammad Yousaf, Col (R) Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, Abdul Rehman Malik. They discussed the proposed amendments in Criminal Law and Anti-Terrorism bill 2014.

The committee appreciated the efforts made by the incumbent government to counter electricity theft.

Senator Rehman Malik stressed for proper legislation to control electricity theft and asked for setting up of a sub- committee to probe the matter in detail.

The committee unanimously approved a three member sub- committee including Senators Sardar Ali Khan, Col (R) Tahir Hussain Mashhadi and Begum Najma Hameed to give suggestions for improving Criminal Law (amendment) bill 2014 and said that the presence of WAPDA officials should be ensured in the committee.

Senator Tahir Mashhadi said that law regarding electricity theft existed but WAPDA showed line losses as theft.

He said there was dire need to control the line losses and improve recovery mechanism.

He said it was the responsibility of WAPDA to control losses but the burden was shifted on the poor people. There should be legal provision for stopping involvement of WAPDA employees in electricity theft, he added.

While discussing the Anti-Terrorism law, Baligh ur Rehman said the law was being amended as it seemed illogical that law enforcement personnel could not fire back when they were fired upon.

He said this impression was wrong that the law would infringe upon rights of citizens.

The committee members expressed reservations to the clause in the bill under which a person could be arrested for 90 days for investigation and apprehended that this could be used against any body and asked for a review of the clause.

Senator Tahir said that rights of the people should be protected and accused should be presented before the court within 24 hours after arrest.

The chairman committee expressed concern over the incidents of terrorism and kidnapping in the country and called for more steps to protect citizens.

He also directed officials to present a comparative statement of the existing and amended laws of Anti-Terrorism to the committee.

The chairman urged that the officials of Ministry of Interior should extend cooperation to the committee in its working.

Source: APP