Gujarat Director General of Police Ashish Bhatia has asked all police commissionerates and district heads across the state to take strict action against loan sharks involved in the act of usury by booking them under the stringent Prevention of Anti-Social Activities (PASA) Act.
Usury refers to the practise of unethically raising money by charging steep interest rates from the borrower by the money lender.
According to a directive issued by DGP Bhatia to all police commissioners and superintendents of police across Gujarat on Saturday, each police station has been asked to maintain a record of the money lenders involved in usury.
“Recently the state government had amended the PASA Act and Gunda Act to include the practise of usury as an offence under which people involved in illegally lending money can be sent to jail under PASA Act provisions. There have been numerous incidents of borrowers being charged steep interest rates and later threatened to pay the amount or their properties are being confiscated by the loan sharks,” read a statement from the office of DGP Bhatia.
“As a result, many a times the victim borrower had chosen suicide due to harassment. A special directive has been issued by the office of DGP to take immediate cognizance of such incidents and register offence (sic),” the statement further said.
As per the directive, all police officers have been told to lodge Indian Penal Code sections 384, 387 against lenders who lend money without registration, or above the set limit of interest rates, are found seizing properties of borrowers in exchange of loan amount or found harassing the borrower.
The police have also been directed to appoint teams from the local crime branch of district police to collect technical evidence to ensure that such loan sharks who have avoided arrest till now do not get anticipatory bail or relief from investigation by court.
The directive also states that after the arrest of the loan shark, their previous criminal record must be checked in order to book them under PASA (under which accused under trial is transferred to another district’s jail) or under Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) 110G under which habitual offenders deemed “dangerous and desperate” are booked.
The directive also states that in circumstances where the borrower cannot return the lended money and their property is confiscated then such accused sharks can be booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the Gujarat Money Lenders Act.
A crime conference will also be held soon to discuss more on the strategy to avert usury practises, informed the office of DGP.
Meanwhile, three residents of Babara in Amreli– Jasukbhai Jumana, Yuvraj Jumana and Ramesh Khachar – were arrested for allegedly forcing a borrower to sign a blank cheque in exchange of lended money and later threatening him.
An FIR at Babara police station books the accused under IPC sections 384 (extortion), 387 (putting fear or death or grievous hurt for extortion) 506 (criminal intimidation) and sections of the Gujarat Money Lenders Act.
The FIR states that the three accused had lent Rs 1,20,000 to Gaurang Kotak without registration on the interest rate of 12 per cent. Gaurang who is a chemist by profession was then forced to sign a blank cheque by the lenders.
“We have arrested three persons for forcing the victim to sign blank cheque in exchange of borrowed money,” said Nirlipt Rai, superintendent of police, Amreli.
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