Non-verification of Tenant is a criminal offence

MARGAO: Anti-social elements and those with criminal background are easily getting shelter in any nook and corner of the tourist-destination state and with legal lacunae in section 144 of CrPC as being pointed out by officials including the police, the landlords, who rent out their premises without verification of tenants, get away without any punishment in case of any untoward incident involving the tenants.
In one such instance that had happened in the past in Salcete, a gelatin blast had occurred in a rented room at Sao Jose de Areal, resulting in the death of a person. Tenant verification of the people staying in the room was allegedly not followed by the owner of the room.
Similarly, a Ratnagiri convict Faik Mohamand was found staying in a rental premises at Nagmodem-Navelim. Though the police had arrested him, no action was taken against the landlord due to legal lacunae.
The district collector Dr Sachin Shinde, in June 2015, had ordered the police to file FIRs in the court under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) against landlords who fail to follow the tenant verification procedure with the police. However, the police say they can only submit details to the district collector, but cannot file FIR in the court under Section 144 of CrPC as the powers are vested with the district collector.
Sources informed this daily that there has been not a single case where FIRs have been registered against erring landlords for their failure in furnishing details of their tenants to the police and defying official orders for the last several years. With no action, the landlords/owners are brazenly renting out rooms without following the mandatory procedure. This has in fact allowed people with criminal background to take refuge in any part of the state.
“The government should immediately put a proper mechanism in place in view of the state’s security. The landlords, who rent out their premises, should be strictly held responsible in case of their failure in following the tenant verification procedure. The Sao Jose de Areal incident relating to a gelatin blast in a rented room and subsequent death of a person a year ago is a case of point,” said a social activist C Baretto of Margao.
While the district collectors issue orders to the police for registering FIRs in the court against the erring landlords under section 144 of CrPC, the police on the other hand say they are not empowered to do so instead the district collector or sub-ordinate has the authority. Police say that their attempts in the past have failed with the court pointing out that they are not empowered to do so.
“Such orders were issued on SP’s request. Now I have sought opinion of the law department on interpretation of the section 144 of CrPC,” district collector Dr Shinde said, adding that, he has called a second round of meeting with the additional collector and SP this month in order to come out with a solution on the section.
South Goa Superintendent of Police Shekhar Prabhudesai reiterated that legal action in the court against landlords has to be taken by the district magistrate or the sub-ordinate.

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