Bihar rights panel seeks report on scribe’s plight

Patna, May 22 (IANS) Taking cognizance of prolonged harassment faced by a journalist and his family by their landlord for not paying an exorbitant rent here, Bihar’s rights panel Wednesday sought a report from the city police chief on the issue.

The Bihar Human Rights Commission has directed Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj to submit a report soon in the matter, an official said.

“We deliberated on the complaint received from Anand S.T. Das about his landlord forcibly disconnecting electricity supply to his rented flat for refusing to pay a sharply hiked house-rent. This is a serious violation of human rights. We have called for a detailed police report,” the official said.

Das, a Patna-based senior journalist working with the Asian Age, said he and his family have been forced to live without electricity at their rented house in Kankarbagh for the past two months.

“It is like living in hell without electricity when mercury is crossing over 40 degrees Celsius here. Neither can we use fan, nor TV,” Das, who hails from Odisha told IANS.

Das lives in the house with his wife and three minor children, the youngest being only two years old.

“I had approached authorities concerned to help me and intervene but nothing happened. I am helpless and sometimes upset. It is affecting my professional work,” said Das who has lost at least five kg weight in the last two months.

His March 23 petition at the Patna sub-divisional officer-cum-rent controller’s court for restoration of the power supply has still not been heard as the circle officer has not yet submitted the inquiry report to the court, said Das.

Das said he has been paying house rent and power bills regularly but his landlord, Janardhan Ojha, snapped the power supply to his flat to evict him for refusing to pay Rs.8,000 in monthly rent in place of the current Rs.4,000.

Das had lodged a first information report (FIR) against Ojha and his sons in 2012 for allegedly assaulting him and his then pregnant wife, who suffered a miscarriage as a result, but the police took no action.

Efforts to reach Ojha for a comment failed.

The Delhi High Court in a February 2012 ruling, restricted landlords from arbitrarily increasing rents in line with inflation or cost-price index.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that a landlord cannot evict a tenant for at least five years if the latter pays rent regularly.

But most of towns in Bihar have seen frequent violations of these guidelines and provisions of the rent law.

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