Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Madras high court asks police to stay off tenant-landlord disputes

Police should stay off landlord-tenant disputes, as the parties have remedy only in the competent civil court, the Madras high court has said.

Justice T S Sivagnanam, concurring with advocate S Namo Narayanan and passing orders on a petition filed by R Suresh, a few days ago, said: "If there is a landlord and tenant relationship, police are not entitled to inquire the matter. They should advise both the parties to approach the competent civil court or rent control authority."

The matter relates to a criminal complaint lodged against Suresh by his landlord P Syed Omar Sajeeth before the Teynampet police on June 7, seeking recovery of rent arrears.

After being summoned to appear in the police station, Suresh said he and his counsel met the officers handling the matter. Even after his counsel explained that there was absolutely no criminal offence necessitating the summoning of Suresh, police held inquiries.

Namo Narayanan said the police should not to have entertained the complaint at all, as there was no criminal element in the allegations. The dispute was civil in nature, he said. He then moved the high court seeking a direction to the police not to harass Suresh in the name of inquiry.

When the matter was taken up for hearing, additional public prosecutor admitted that an inquiry had indeed been conducted by the Teynampet police. However, It was closed, he said.

Recording the statement, Justice Sivagnanam pointed out that a police notice served under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was furnished in the court to prove that Suresh had been summoned to the station. Since it was stated that the inquiry had been over, Suresh should not be harassed by the police any further, the judge said, disposing of the petition.

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