ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel on Tuesday has finally given go-ahead to treat oil and gas theft as a non-bailable offence with maximum jail term of 14 years along with a fine of Rs10 million.
The proposed amendment bill has been lying with the finance committee since 1997.
National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources endorsed recommendations for Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2011. A new chapter will be added in the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 namely, Chapter XVII A of Offence Relating to Oil and Gas.
After getting a go-ahead from the parliamentary panel, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources will now table the bill in the national assembly during the ongoing session.
The draft bill was proposed following increasing number of theft cases including gas pipelines being blown up in the northern part of the country.
Gas theft causes a loss of Rs20 billion while oil robbery results in a loss of Rs18 billion annually, according to petroleum ministry estimates.
The crime and the punishment
Any person who wilfully tampers or helps in tampering with a main gas pipeline installation for termination or transportation will be punished with rigorous imprisonment which may be extended to 14 years along with a fine which may be go to up Rs10 million, according to the draft.
Tampering with auxiliary or distribution pipeline of petroleum for the purpose of theft or disrupting supply will be punished with jail-time up to 10 years and a maximum fine of Rs3 million.
Meanwhile, tampering with any gas meter, regulator, meter index, gas connection or any other related system whether to commit theft of gas or for the purpose of unauthorised distribution shall be punishable, in case of a domestic consumer, for six months and a fine of Rs100,000. In case of industrial and commercial consumer, fiddling with gas meters may extend to conviction of 5 to 10 years and a fine of Rs5 million.
Damaging a transportation line by an act of subversion by explosive material or in any other manner shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend up to 14 years and a fine with a minimum slab of Rs1 million which can go up to Rs10 million.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2011.
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