In view of the recent case of suicide of an Indore-based realtor, legal practitioners in the city are of the opinion that the moneylenders can ask for their money, but the ‘means’ employed for the purpose is the grey area.
Recently, many cases of suicides due to harassment by moneylenders have come to light in the city but conviction rate in such cases has been dismal as it gets very difficult to prove abetment to suicide against moneylenders in court of law, lawyers said.
However, a suicide note by the victim in such cases in itself is a conclusive document, they added.
Advocate Pushyamitra Bhargav said, “In such cases conviction rate is generally low. The evidences produced before the court of law should prove that the coercing pressure by moneylenders is the ‘only’ reason behind a debtor’s suicide.”
As per Indian Penal Code (IPC), to attract the ingredients of abetment, the intention of the accused to aid or instigate or abet the deceased to commit suicide is necessary.
A noted city-based lawyer Ajay Bagadiya said, “As per the law (Madhya Pradesh Money-Lenders Act 1934), recovery suit is the only means through which the moneylender can recover his money back from the debtor.”
However, often the means employed by moneylenders is not just limited to lawful ways, he agreed.
The law mandates that a moneylender should be registered with the prescribed authorities and should maintain detailed records of his account for each debtor separately and furnishes legible statements of account to the debtor from time to time.
“The practice of maintaining records is usually largely ignored by both the parties as private money lending business is carried more on face value than on papers. And in such instances, one of them takes edge over the other,” said another advocate on the condition of anonymity.
The control of usury has been a standard part of administrative work in this country from the Colonial era.
Earlier, this power was vested with Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) and he was given complete discretion to decide upon the rates of interests to be charged from the debtor. Later the authority was transferred to the CEO Zila Panchayat in rural areas and to Municipal Corporation in urban areas.
However, all these provisions are not being implemented and the concerned authorities do not maintain any registers of the sahukars (moneylenders) operating in their jurisdiction nor do they inspect to see whether the sahukars are maintaining proper records or ensure that the rates of interest being charged are not usurious.
In the realtor Hemant Goyal suicide case, police said that the accused will also be given opportunity to present their view and the case will be monitored by an SP level officer.