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Monday, Dec 09, 2019

Police can’t book house owners for not verifying tenant, domestic help details, rules Punjab and Haryana high court

cities Updated: Oct 01, 2019 00:06 IST

Police can’t register an FIR against house owners for not verifying details of tenants, paying guests and domestic helps, the Punjab and Haryana high court has ruled.

This year alone, as many as 400 cases have been registered against house owners in Chandigarh and Mohali for violating the magistrate’s orders on mandatory police verification.

The high court passed the order while quashing an FIR, wherein Chandigarh Police had booked a Sector-15 resident, Sandeep Gandotra, for employing a domestic help and not getting her verification done.

Interestingly, when the UT police counsel was confronted with the legal proposition, he admitted that there was no such provision in law.  

As is the practice, if house owners fail to inform police about their tenants, domestic helps or paying guests, and are caught following a tip-off or special drive, they are booked under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code. It carries a jail term of six months and/or fine. The offence is bailable.

The offence cited by police in such cases is the failure to follow the local magistrate order, which is issued from time to time under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). It states that no landlord/owner/manager of residential and commercial establishments would rent out any accommodation to any person, unless and until he has furnished the particulars of the said tenants, domestic servants and paying guests to the station house officer (SHO) concerned. According to the practice, the person has to inform police in writing the particulars of tenants and others.

The FIR in the present case was registered at the Sector-11 police station in July 2018, when police raided Gandotra’s house. Gandotra approached the HC in February 2019, challenging the FIR.  

Pankaj Chandgothia, who appeared for Gandotra, said that only the public servant concerned (who promulgated the prohibitory order) can make a complaint for offence under Section 188 of the IPC, that too before a court and police has nothing to do with it.

“The intention (of legislature) appears to be clear that where an offence is committed under Section 188 of the IPC, the legislature has made it obligatory that the public servant before whom such an offence is committed, he will file a complaint to the magistrate and the cognisance of the offence by the court concerned is dependent upon the complaint in writing by such officer or an officer superior to such officer,” a 1996 judgment on the issue cited before the bench states.

“(The FIR) registered under Section 188 IPC at Police Station, Sector 11, Chandigarh, is not maintainable and the same is hereby quashed,” the bench of justice Shekher Dhawan ruled, taking note of various provisions and judgments cited in the matter.