The City Police are in hot pursuit of unauthorised moneylenders, whose numbers are growing in the city. Though some have been picked up and remanded in jail, they are likely to return to business in a matter of days.
“It takes concerted effort from different agencies to curb the menace. We will continue to charge cases under the Kerala Moneylenders Act (1958). If anyone is found repeating the offence, that person will be booked under the Kaapa (Kerala Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act of 2007),” said K.P. James, City Police Commissioner.
A total of 31 persons were booked under the Moneylenders Act in 2011. The following year, the figure rose to 33. The number has jumped to 29 in the first four months of 2013. Personnel attached to the shadow wing of the City Police, who are always on the move to gather information, said that these moneylenders operated in all sections of the society.
Most of the arrested moneylenders, however, catered to daily wagers — vendors, traders, employees in private buses and daily labourers. Money is released against sureties such as blank cheque leaves, title deeds or promissory notes and with little or no paper work.
The interest is calculated on a daily or monthly basis and not on annual rates. Interestingly, no major crime has been reported in connection with these activities.
“Except for some odd cases of assault or threatening, not many cases have been registered as part of the drive against unauthorised moneylending,” said Mohammed Nizar, sub-inspector attached to City Shadows. Cases are registered against sections 12, 13, 17, 18(A) and 18(B) of the Money-Lenders Act, which include non-bailable charges for ‘molestation of debtors’, for operating without valid licence, and for irregularities in actions of pawnbrokers.
Despite the intensified drive, unauthorised moneylending activities continue to thrive. The City Police registered 10-odd cases in a single day when searches were conducted simultaneously by police stations recently.
Police personnel involved in such drives said cases could be made fool-proof if seizures were made along with the arrest of a moneylender. Unless the police team seizes evidence such as sureties, the case registered would weaken and offenders would be back in business in no time.