No police verification for your tenant? Be ready for an FIR

Published on Feb 24, 2020 12:16 AM IST
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ByJayprakash S Naidu, Mumbai

Giving out your apartment on rent? Make sure you get your tenant verified by a local police station. The Mumbai Police have registered first information reports (FIRs) against 191 landlords since 2018 for not providing information about their tenants to the senior inspector of their local police station.

Registration of tenants at police stations was made mandatory after several terrorists were found to have taken up properties in the city on rent to execute their plans, a case in point being Yasin Bhatkal who stayed in Mazagaon to carry out the July 13, 2011 serial blasts.

The police commissioner issues an order at regular intervals under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code stating: “It is apprehended that terrorists/anti-social elements may seek hide-outs in residential areas of the said police stations, and there is every likelihood of breach of peace and disturbance of public tranquillity and also there is grave danger to human life, health and safety and injury to public property on that account. And whereas it is necessary that some checks should be put on landlords/tenants so that terrorists/anti-social elements in the guise of tenants may not cause explosion, riots, shootouts, affray etc and that immediate action is necessary for prevention of the same.”

Of the 191 FIRs, charge sheets have been filed in the magistrate court in all cases. In 122 cases, the accused landlords have been convicted, while the remaining cases are pending in magistrate courts. “At least 20 cases have been registered this year till date,” said a senior police officer. After the conviction, the court makes landlords pay a fine, which may vary between 1,000 and 3,000 or more. The section also attracts an imprisonment up to one month. In some cases, the police have arrested the landlords and given them bail from the police station.

Pranaya Ashok, deputy commissioner of police, operations, and spokesperson for Mumbai Police in whose name the order is signed, said, “We have been taking regular action and will continue with it.”

A total of 114 of the 191 FIRs have been filed in the north region, which extends from Goregaon to Dahisar. Additional commissioner, north region, Dilip Sawant said, “Compared to other regions, our region has more residential areas and less offices. Also, the house rent is comparatively low.”

An officer from the anti-terrorism cell, who registers such cases, told Hindustan Times, “We keep spreading awareness on the law by holding meetings with housing societies regularly. We keep telling the building secretary to provide us information on any new tenant kept by the landlord. We also circulate pamphlets in local area to create awareness.”

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