* NO ORDER IN FORCE SINCE AUG 2021 TO PROSECUTE LANDLORDS FOR LETTING OUT PREMISES TO MISCREANTS * ARREST OF ASSAM NATIVE FOR RAPE BRINGS TO FORE ABSENCE OF DETERRENT MECHANISM FOR OWNERS TO COMPULSORY VERIFY TENANTS
The arrest of an Assam native at Mandopa-Navelim in the jurisdiction of Margao Police Station in a rape case has brought back to the fore the contentious debate over tenant verification.
Even as the Margao police is investigating to find out about since when the accused had been staying in a rented room at Mandopa-Navelim before he was traced by the police, questions are being raised in police circles about whether any notification from the South Goa district administration is in force in the district mandating the landlords to inform the police while letting out their premises on rent.
This has only brought back to focus the decades-old issue of the absence of a deterrent mechanism for landlords to compulsorily get the tenants fill up the tenant verification forms.
Police sources said the prosecution of the landlords letting their premises to the miscreants is ruled out in the event no order under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code is in force in the district.
"When there’s no order under Section 144 of the CrPC, there’s no question of prosecuting anyone for disobeying the order under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code", remarked a police official.
Sources at the district police headquarters, South informed that the police had last received an order from the District Magistrate on June 7, 2021, with directions to stakeholders including the landlords, hotels and establishments to get their tenants for verification.
“The June 7, 2021 order was perhaps the last one received by the district police from the District Magistrate. This order has been in force for only two months and it lapsed in August. After that, we have not come across any new order issued by the District Magistrate issued under Section 144 of the CrPC”, the source said.
When The Goan called up a senior district official, he pointed out that the district administration apparently did not issue the notification under Section 144 of the CrPC on the plea that the government was scheduled to enact a comprehensive law on tenant verification.
“The order under Section 144 of the CrPC was normally issued from time to time by the District Magistrate mandating the landlords, besides establishment owners, to get their tenants to the police station for verification of their antecedents”, a senior district official informed.
He, however, hastened to add that the order may have not been renewed since a comprehensive Act was proposed to be enacted on tenant verification in the Legislative Assembly.
A senior official pointed out that the District Magistrate’s order on tenant verification hardly had any deterrent impact on the ground over the bitter row on the question of registration of FIR. While the men-in-uniform had maintained all along that an officer issuing the order under Section 144 of the CrPC is required to file a complaint with the police, the district authorities, however, had begged to differ. In support of its stand that the police cannot register the FIR, police officials had cited judgements, wherein the Magistrate’s Court had dismissed the cases at the stage of framing of the charge itself because the police has no jurisdiction to file the complaint.
South Goa police launch'Know Your Neighbours'
With no legal mechanism in place to crack a whip against erring landlords and owners, the South Goa police administration has launched an initiative “Know Your Neighbours” to be vigilant on the people residing in their neighbourhood.
An initiative of District Police chief Abhishek Dhania, IPS, the 'Know Your Neighbours' concept has been launched to encourage people to submit tenant/servant verification forms of the tenants residing in their vicinity.
“It has been observed that several crimes are committed by the migrants/foreigners coming to Goa from other states/countries. Similarly, migrants/foreigners with criminal backgrounds run away after committing crimes in other states and take shelter in Goa to escape from the hands of the law. Likewise, migrants, foreigners and others coming to Goa become either victims or accused, and it becomes difficult to trace them as in most cases, the details of such migrants are not available to the police due to non-submission of tenant/servant verification forms by the house owners with whom, the migrants/foreigners reside on rent basis”, he said.
SP Dhania added: “It is worthwhile to mention that several heinous crimes have been solved only because of leads and inputs received through such verification”.
Under this initiative, around 9,632 tenant forms & 11 servant forms have so far been filled at Police Stations in the South District, which is to verify the antecedents of the migrants.
“This initiative will be further enhanced by launching a special tenant/servant/foreigner verification drive to streamline the verification process. We plan to set up a separate and dedicated 'kiosk' at every Police Station in South Goa district wherein verification of tenants, servants and foreigners will be done”, he said.
He pointed out that it is important people know who is residing next to them or on their property as a tenant, servant or otherwise given that Goa being a small State is susceptible to terrorist and other anti-social activities.