Tamil Nadu

Theni police take proactive steps to end usury menace

In a proactive exercise, the Bodinayakkanur sub-division police opened an anti-usury cell early this year that is showing results.

Though there are laws to tackle the usury menace, people, mostly in the below poverty line category, fall prey to usurious financiers to make both ends meet. When they face trouble, the borrowers petition the authorities, seeking intervention, and sometimes, they even attempt to end their lives, officials said.

Over the last about five months, 52 petitions were received at the DSP’s office from persons who had borrowed loans at high rates of interest and who were undergoing mental agony. Out of the nine police stations in the sub-division, Bodi Taluk, Bodi Town and Chinnamanur stations had the highest number of complaints, said DSP Parthiban.

A team of officers in his jurisdiction was given the task of conducting enquiries and taking action as per the laws. “Today there are no complaints,” the DSP said.

The police said that the borrowings were between ₹10,000 and ₹20 lakh. The irony was that many borrowers did not even know the rates of interest they were made to pay. For instance, a roadside fruit vendor had taken a Rs 10,000 loan for which the lender had given ₹9,000 in cash after taking ₹1,000 as interest. Every day, the borrower had to pay ₹100 for 100 days.

In another complaint, a borrower had, through a sale deed, registered his immovable property in the name of the lender as if he had sold it. The understanding was that after full repayment, the property would be returned. This, according to the borrower, never happened. When the complaint was examined, the police were convinced that the borrower had settled in full. Hence, the property worth ₹20 lakh was duly returned to the rightful owner.

In many other complaints, due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, the borrowers could not pay up. Hence, the lenders had demanded penal interest. At this juncture, the borrowers came to the police, who summoned both the petitioner and the counter petitioner. When the lender agreed to waive the interest and penal interest, the borrower agreed to pay up the principal.

For the borrowers, these interventions meant they were freed from mental agony. For the lenders, it was a lesson learnt not to harass the borrowers as the police explained the legal action and the laws to them during the inquiries. For the police and the district administration, the proactive exercise was a beginning which may prevent people threatening to end their lives at the Collectorates during weekly grievance meetings, said Mr. Parthiban.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 4:59:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/theni-police-take-proactive-steps-to-end-usury-menace/article34857590.ece

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