Cong moves Bombay HC to stop ex-MLA Rane from running bypoll

Cong moves Bombay HC to stop ex-MLA Rane from running bypoll
Cong moves Bombay HC to stop ex-MLA Rane from running bypoll

The Congress today moved the Bombay High Court seeking to stop its former MLA and Goa’s current Health Minister Vishwajit Rane from contesting the future by- elections till the existing state assembly term ends in 2022.

The party moved the Goa bench of the high court.

“The petition has been filed jointly by the Indian National Congress, the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC), the Congress Legislative party (CLP) and 15 members of the legislative assembly,” CLP leader Chandrakant Kavlekar told reporters.

Pratapsinh Rane, a senior Congress MLA and Vishwajit’s father, however, did not sign the petition, he said.

Kavlekar said they have urged the court not to allow Vishwajit to contest the future elections till 2022.

Vishwajit had resigned as MLA of Valpoi seat on March 16, the day when Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar sailed through the trust vote on floor of the House.

He later joined the ruling BJP and was subsequently inducted in the cabinet as health minister.

“By abstaining from voting in the Goa legislative assembly (on the day of trust vote), and by voluntarily giving up his membership of the Congress Party, (Vishwajeet) Rane had automatically incurred disqualification for being a member of the House from March 16, 2017 to March 15, 2022,” reads the petition.

“Therefore, in terms of Article 191 of the Constitution, he stood disqualified for being chosen as or for being a member of the Goa legislative assembly between this period of five years as a mandate of Article 191 of the Constitution.

“Despite this constitutional mandate, Vishwajeet has not only joined a different political party on April 6, 2017 after voluntarily resigning from the Congress on March 16, but has also been conferred a ministerial office by the present BJP government in Goa for being dishonest to Congress,” it stated.

The petitioners stated that junior Rane’s act of joining the BJP a month after resigning from the Congress is against the “very foundations of democracy” and cannot be “countenanced” in terms of the law or under Article 191 of Constitution.

The Congress had earlier contemplated approaching Goa Speaker Pramod Sawant, a BJP MLA from Sankhalim in north Goa, seeking Vishwajeet’s disqualification as MLA but later refrained from doing so.

( Source – PTI )

NGT notice to Goa govt on plea against beautification of beach

NGT notice to Goa govt on plea against beautification of beach
NGT notice to Goa govt on plea against beautification of beach

The National Green Tribunal, Pune, today issued notices to Goa government and others in response to a petition filed by a citizen challenging beautification of a beach in the port town of Vasco.

The NGT, in its order, asked state Chief Secretary, Goa Coastal Zone management Authority (GCZMA), Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) and Mormugao Municipal Council to appear before the bench on October 4.

The petition, filed by Vasco resident Rajabhau Lahanu Pawar, raised objections to the construction work undertaken by GTDC to beautify Baina beach, the erstwhile red light area in the port town.

The petitioner alleged that the work was being executed in ‘No Development Zone’, violating the Coastal Regulation Zone notification, 2011.

Earlier, the locals under the banner of Mormugao Vasco Citizens Forum (MVCF) had questioned the beautification project demanding that it should be done keeping a distance of 100 metres from the sea.

They had pointed out that in 2006, GCZMA had demolished structures on the beaches claiming them to be violating the CRZ rules.

( Source – PTI )

CBI files closure report in British woman’s death case in Goa

CBI files closure report in British woman's death case in Goa
CBI files closure report in British woman’s death case in Goa

Six years after a 35-year-old British woman was found dead near Anjuna beach in Goa, the CBI has filed a closure report in the case as no evidence of assault or homicide has been found.

The 50-page closure report in the death case of Denyse Sweeney was filed yesterday by a special team of CBI which arrived here from Mumbai.

“The report has been filed before Judicial Magistrate First Class, Mapusa,” Nandkumar Nair, the head of CBI’s special branch in Mumbai, told PTI today.

He said forensically, the cause of death was cerebral pulmonary oedema, which means accumulation of fluid in brain and lungs.

There was no evidence of assault or homicide and also there was no eyewitness or circumstantial evidence due to which the closure report was filed, Nair said.

Sweeney was on a holiday in Goa when she was found dead on April 16, 2010 near the toilet of a night club in Anjuna beach area.

Local police had cited drug overdose as the reason behind the death, but later registered a case of murder after Sweeney’s family suspected foul play.

The Central Bureau of Investigation had taken over the probe into the case in January.

The development in Sweeney case came days after Goa Children’s Court in Panaji acquitted two men accused of drugging, sexually abusing and leaving to die British teenager Scarlett Eden Keeling at Anjuna beach in February 2008.

( Source – PTI )

Rape case: Goa MLA Monserratte gets bail

Rape case: Goa MLA Monserratte gets bail
Rape case: Goa MLA Monserratte gets bail

Goa legislator Atanasio Monserratte, who was arrested for allegedly buying and raping a minor girl, has been granted bail by a local court today.

District and Sessions Judge Pramod Kamat granted bail to Monserratte, and also the girl’s mother and another woman, Rosy Ferros, arrested for allegedly selling her to the MLA for Rs 50 lakh.

The St Cruz legislator has been asked to furnish bail amount of Rs one lakh and a surety of the like amount. He has been asked to appear before Crime Branch for next seven days.

The two other accused women were asked to furnish bail amount of Rs 25,000 each and sureties of the like amount. They were also asked to report to the Crime Branch for seven days.

The legislator, who had been expelled from Congresslast year, was arrested on May 5.

Goa police is investigating the case against Monserratte who has been booked for buying the 16-year-old girl and raping her in March.

He was booked under IPC sections 376 (rape), 328 (poisoning), 342 (wrongful confinement), 370 (A) (trafficking), provisions of Goa Children Act and Protection of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

The MLA’s counsel Rajiv Gomes had argued against slapping of section 370 of IPC and section 8(2) of Goa Children’s Act in the FIR against the MLA.

Referring to the statement recorded by the girl, Gomes said there was no sexual assault in this case as the girl never claimed or disclosed about it in her complaint.

He also challenged the arrest of Monserratte on May 5, the day he appeared before police, by an officer who was not investigating the case.

Gomes had pointed out that the arrest was executed by Police Inspector Dattaguru Sawant, while the case was investigated by Sawant’s colleague Sudiksha Naik.

The lawyer had claimedthat the investigation was conducted at the behest of political opponents of the accused.

He also said that by charging the legislator with rape, the police were making the girl as “rape victim” and “tarnishing her image”.

In his bail plea, the MLA said the charge of rape against him was a “fertile imagination of investigating officer”.

( Source – PTI )

Goa MLA Monserratte’s pc extended by three days

Goa MLA Monserratte's pc extended by three days
Goa MLA Monserratte’s pc extended by three days

A local court today extended the police custody of former Goa Education minister and expelled Congress legislator Atanasio Monserratte by three days in connection with the case of buying and raping of a minor girl.

The state Crime Branch produced Monserratte before District and Sessions Judge B P Deshpande as the three-day remand granted to him by Judicial Magistrate First Class expired today.

Monserratte, who has been booked under POSCO Act, has been arrested for allegedly buying and raping a 16-year-old girl.

The mother of the girl and another woman Rosy Ferros have also been arrested for selling the victim to the St Cruz lawmaker for Rs 50 lakh.

However, he has denied the charges claiming them to be politically motivated.

The Crime Branch today told the court that Monserratte has not been cooperating with them.

The police had sought ten days custody which they said was required for thorough investigations but the judge allowed only three days (till May 11).

Defence Lawyer Saresh Lotlikar representing Monserratte said the accused has been completely cooperating with the agencies.

“The agencies had three-day custody which they failed to utilise. The accused has surrendered before police out of his own wish so he trying to influence witneses is out of question,” he said.

Advocate Rajiv Gomes, another lawyer representing the accused, told reporters outside the court that the probe agency has failed to collect proper evidence in the case.

“The investigation is biased. Statement of the girl is manipulated. The process of manipulation has started from child welfare committee of state-run Apna Ghar,” he claimed.

“There is no question of accused not cooperating as he has surrendered before the police,” he said.

Gomes said the girl has given her statement before the magistrate under pressure.

The lawyer also objected to the police unnecessarily subjecting Monserratte to psychiatric tests.

Meanwhile, the mother of the girl was also remanded to three-day police custody following which he has moved for a bail application before Goa Children’s Court which would be heard on May 12.

( Source – PTI )

Activists challenge Goa govt’s Tree Act in Bombay High Court

Activists challenge Goa govt's Tree Act in Bombay High Court
Activists challenge Goa govt’s Tree Act in Bombay High Court

State-based heritage activist and two other NGOs have filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court challenging Laxmikant Parsekar-led governments recent move to amend the Act re-classifying the coconut tree as palm.

The petition which was filed before the bench in Goa recently has sought to stop the state government from proceeding on the Act which no longer accords tree status to the coconut tree.

Heritage activist Prajal Sakhardande, NGOs–Goa For Giving and Mumbai based Vanashakti– has termed the amendment to the Goa Preservation of Trees Act, 1984 as “illegal”.

The petition seeks to restrain the respondents from proceeding on the basis that coconut trees are not trees under the Goa Preservation of Trees Act, 1984.

The petitioners have said the amendment expressly removes the extended protection given to the coconut tree under the Act.

The consequence is that coconut trees that do not conform to the width/height requirements can now be felled indiscriminately without applying for permission from the tree authority.

“It modifies the definition of tree protected under the Act to exclude trees that have a trunk/body less than 10 centimetres in diameter at a height of one meter from ground level. It may be noted that earlier, the qualification was that the trunk was required to have a diameter of 5 centimetres at a height of 30 centimetres from the ground level,” the petition states.

“As a result any tree that does not meet the ten centimetre criteria can be felled indiscriminately without applying for permission from the tree authority,” it adds.

The petitioners have said The Goa Preservation of Trees Act, 1984 was enacted for the purpose of preserving trees in the territories of Goa, Daman, and Diu.

To that end, the Act created a mechanism to prevent indiscriminate felling of trees, and encourage planting of trees.

Pointing out the environmental impact of this Act the petitioners have said in the present environmental scenario, given that the decreased amount of water reaching the sea from river, the land near the coast will become more saline in a process that is called salinity intrusion.

“As a consequence, land along the coast will be rendered barren and useless of cultivation. This process has already begun causing untold damage in other parts of India such as Gujarat,” they said.

( Source – PTI )

Spl public prosecutor withdraws from Louis Berger bribery case

Spl public prosecutor withdraws from Louis Berger bribery case
Spl public prosecutor withdraws from Louis Berger bribery case

The special public prosecutor representing the state inLouis Berger bribery scandal in Goa has decided to withdraw from appearing in the case.

In a letter written to Superintendent of Police (Crime Branch), Special Public Prosecutor Rajiv Gomes noted that a complaint of dual nationality registered against him with Margao police has been transferred to Crime Branch, which appointed him as SPP in the Louis Berger case.

“It has been brought to my notice yesterday that crime number 31/6 of Margao Town police station registered against me on false allegations of having acquired Portuguese nationality has been recently transferred to the Crime Branch for investigation,” Gomes said in a letter dated April 14.

“I have always demanded that a fair, just and expeditious investigation be carried out in the said case registered against me so that the truth surfaces at the earliest,” he said.

“Hence pending investigation in conformity to the ethical standards of my profession and in order to facilitate a fair and just investigation, as well as to dispel any element of suspicion in the investigation due to my status as a Special Public Prosecutor of Crime Branch, I find it desirable that I immediately withdraw my appearance in crime number 93/15 of crime branch police station special case – State v Churchill Alemao and Others,” he further said.

Gomes had appeared for the state to oppose the anticipatory bail plea filed by former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat in August last year and also to oppose the bail petitions of others accused, including former PWD Minister Churchill Alemao, in the Louis Berger bribery case.

Last year, the Crime Branch had registered an FIR against Kamat, Alemao and others in connection with the case of alleged payment of bribe by officials of Louis Berger, a US-based firm, to an Indian minister to win consultancy for a water augmentation and sewerage project funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Goa.

Alemao, who was PWD minister in the Kamat government, and three others, including former vice-president of Louis Berger Satyakam Mohanty, head of JICA-aided project in Goa Anand Wachasunder and alleged hawala dealer Raychand Soni were then arrested in connection with the case.

Kamat had got anticipatory bail from a trial court. The Goa bench of Bombay High Court had also upheld the order of the trial court that granted him anticipatory bail.

The 61-year-old Congress leader was heading the state between 2007-2012 when the New Jersey-based consultancy firm allegedly paid the bribes.

( Source – PTI )

Goa terror suspect gets bail

Goa terror suspect gets bail
Goa terror suspect gets bail

Terror suspect Sameer Sardana was today granted bail by a local court after the prosecution said he could not be linked to any militant group though he was found in possession of “incriminating documents which endangered national security”.

The Dehradun-based man, son of a retired Major General, was being investigated by Goa’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) after his arrest on suspected terror links last week.

Judicial Magistrate of Vasco Shabnam Shaikh granted the 44-year-old bail on a surety of Rs 10,000 and asked him to present himself before Vasco Police everyday over the next four days.

“I have full faith in court. The justice is partly served. I am confident that I will get clean chit,” Sardana told reporters after obtaining bail.

Sardana was arrested on February 1 from Vasco railway station. His maternal uncle Harinder Singh Rawat, who is also a retired Army officer, had filed the bail petition.

When the plea came up before the court today, Devanand Korgaonkar, Assistant Public Prosecutor, admitted that Sardana could not be linked directly to any banned terror group.

He, however, claimed Sardana was not cooperating with the investigating agency and a few documents found in his possession were “highly suspicious, incriminating and dangerous to the national security”.

The prosecution stated the suspect was found in possession of six passports, 23 SIM cards, four mobile phones, a laptop, Internet dongle and documents such as bank statements and handwritten notes.

The Assistant Public Prosecutor said intelligence agencies, after analysing data from a SIM card used by him, found Pakistani telephone numbers in it. Sardana has 35 email IDs, but he has refused to part with their passwords.

He told the court the suspect possessed anti-national and anti-establishment materials, and also information on making bombs.

Defence lawyer Shashikant Joshi said Sardana hailed from a respectable family and is a CA by profession. “On completion of his education, Sameer worked as an executive at some of the top international consulting companies, where he proved his proficiency in management consultancy.”

Joshi said his client is willing to cooperate with investigators and ready to comply with conditions imposed by the Court.

( Source – PTI )

Goa lawyers to protest against shifting of lower courts

Goa lawyers to protest against shifting of lower courts
Goa lawyers to protest against shifting of lower courts

Lawyers in Goa will sport black or white bands on their arms today to protest the shifting of lower courts from a Portuguese-era building in Panaji to a place on the city outskirts.

“The bar strongly denounces and condemns the shabby and step-motherly treatment meted to the advocates by the Government of Goa, the District Court and theBombay High Court administration and judiciary in the entire process of shifting of the Tiswadi (Panaji) lower courts,”North Goa District Advocates Association (NGDAA) resolved during its extra-ordinary general body meeting held yesterday.

The general body of NGDAA appealed to lawyers to sport black or white bands on their arms over the coat while appearing in courts, which were shifted to the new premises last month.

The NGDAA resolved that the executive committees of the taluka advocates association be requested to call upon their members to also wear such bands while appearing in courts at all talukas in the North Goa district.

The association has also appealed to the executive committees of South Goa districtadvocates association and the High Court Bar Association to join the protest.

The lawyers also plan to stage a protest outside the High Court complex in Panaji, but have not announced any date for it.

NGDAA is demanding that the state government should expedite the work for construction of the new premises at Merces village near here rather than shifting the courts to a building taken on rent.

( Source – PTI )

Goa HRC to hear petition on police atrocities on protestors

Goa HRC to hear petition on police atrocities on protestors
Goa HRC to hear petition on police atrocities on protestors

The Goa Human Rights Commission will tomorrow hear a petition filed by social activist Aires Rodrigues over alleged atrocities against demonstrators demanding proper investigations into the death of priest Fr Bismarque Dias here.

Several demonstrators were allegedly baton-charged on November 21 last year when they were protesting in Panaji.

The three-member Commission headed by Justice P K Misra and comprising retired District Judge A D Salkar and J A Keny has already issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police to appear before it.

Rodrigues in his complaint drew the attention of the Commission to the alleged police atrocities against peaceful protest by citizens held at Panaji demanding a free, fair and impartial probe into the sudden death of the priest.

The body of Dias was found floating in a river on November 6 following which locals feared that he was murdered.

Rodrigues alleged that Goa Police personnel allegedly abused their power and used excessive criminal force and manhandled the protesters without any provocation.