Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Wednesday said he has directed district Collectors and police officials to act swiftly on complaints of exorbitant interest charged by money lenders, a move which comes after a family committed self-immolation over usury in Tirunelveli district.
Stating that an existing legislation prevented money lenders from charging exorbitant interest rates, the Chief Minister also asked affected persons to approach officials for redressal.
To prevent money lenders from charging excessive interest rates, the J Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK government had in 2003 enacted the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Charging Exorbitant Interest Act, he noted.
It had various provisions aimed at protecting borrowers, and this included settling disputes through courts by paying the said amount there, Palaniswami said.
“There are provisions (in the Act) to retrieve movable and immovable assets of borrowers illegally confiscated by money lenders and hand it over to the (rightful) owners,” the Chief Minister said in a statement.
The legislation allowed taking stringent action against money-lenders charging exorbitant interest rates, he added.
Further, the Chief Minister underlined his government’s commitment to protect people from such lenders.
“I have directed District Collectors and police officials to take quick action on complaints received from people on charging of exorbitant interest rates based on the 2003 legislation brought in by Amma (Jayalalithaa),” Palaniswami said.
Affected people can therefore seek recourse without any fear and approach the collectors and police officials for relief, he added.
In a heart-wrenching incident on Monday, a woman and her two young children died while her husband is in a critical condition after the couple set themselves and the kids on fire at the Tirunelveli Collectorate complex over alleged harassment by a money-lender and the police.
The money lender, Dhalavai Raj, his wife Muthu Lakshmi and Dalavai Raj’s father Kalimuthu were arrested while Sub-Inspector Murugan and Head Constable Kandhasamy Kumar, who had allegedly threatened the couple, were suspended, the police said.
The shocking incident brought to fore the issue of exorbitant rate of interest being charged by some private money lenders, despite the state having enacted a legislation in 2003 to check usury.