July 25, 2009

Clerics issue fatwa against power theft

by David Masters

Senior Islamic scholars in Pakistan have issued a religious edict banning the theft of electricity.

The fatwa, issued by the 12 clerics at the behest of the Karachi Electricity Supply Company (KESC), rules that stealing electricity is as illegal and sinful as any other form of theft.

KESC claims electricity thieves are costing the firm 1 billion rupees ($12.3 million) a month.

‘It is astonishing and disturbing to find that certain segments of our society do not even consider theft of electricity ‘theft’, let alone immoral or illegal,’ said Ayesha Eirabie, KESC spokesperson.

Many households in Karachi siphon electricity from overhead cables.

Others tinker with their electricity meter to reduce their energy bills.

‘Most of the people who steal electricity can afford to pay for it but they choose not to,” Eirabie said.

“It’s very important for such people to know that electricity theft is illegal, immoral and not acceptable as is any other form of theft.”

The clerics backed Eirabie’s view, ruling that unpermitted use of any commodity is “sin, theft and usurpation” under Shariah law.

Legal action against electricity thieves is “fair”, the scholars said, and is compatible with Islamic law.

Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city with 16 million residents, last week suffered power cuts for the second time in the past month.

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