RAPE CASE ARREST: Babush Monserrate spent eight days in jail after his arrest in the alleged molestation case, 12 days less than Aryan Khan had to endure for a fictitious case of transporting and consuming narcotics.
It is unlikely that Babush and Jennifer Monserrate will get the tickets of any party. On the contrary, if they are convicted in the Panaji Town Police Station attack case, they may be barred from contesting elections for six years. Justice Manish Pitale has reserved the judgment after expressing anguish that such candidates are elected.
By Rajan Narayan
THE presiding judge of the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court Justice Manish Pitale expressed anguish over the type of persons, voters were electing as legislators. Justice Pitale was specifically referring to Panjim MLA Babush Monserrate and his wife — Goa’s Revenue Minister Jennifer Monserrate, who are the main accused in the 2008 attack on the Panaji Town Police Station which has been pending in the High Court for the last seven years. The reason why the tortoise has suddenly turned into a hare is because of the directives of the Supreme Court to fast track the hearing of serious criminal cases against the 2,000 plus Member of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) and Member of Parliaments (MPs).
The incident goes back to 2008 when some goons who were part of the Babush group happened to be arrested by the Panaji town police. The Panaji police was adamant on not releasing them despite repeated demands from Taleigao resident Babush Monserrate. Incredibly, Babush along with a huge mob which included his wife, Jennifer Monserrate and the then Panaji mayor Tony Fernandes stormed the Panaji police station. The Babush mob even assaulted the female constables on duty at the Panaji police station. The grossly outnumbered police officers and constables were so scared that they locked themselves behind the gates of the Panaji police station which is a heritage structure. Several of those who had been arrested have turned approvers which makes the chances of the Monserrates escaping conviction difficult.
The then Superintendent of Police (SP) Niraj Kumar Thakur subsequently retaliated by leading an attack on the Monserrate residence in Taleigao, in which allegedly his son Rohit, present mayor of Panaji, was injured. The case was handed over to the Criminal Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which filed a charge sheet against Babush Monserrate, Jennifer, then Panjim mayor Tony Fernandes and several other members of the mob on February 19, 2008.
They were not only accused of an act of insurrection but also damage to the police station on February 19, 2008. The High Court by its order dated April 24, 2012 declined to quash these criminal proceedings. Despite this, the politically influential Monserrates managed to obtain a stay on the trial on December 4, 2014. In a classic case of manipulating the judiciary, the Monserrates managed to stay any further hearing of the case for seven years.
This is totally contrary to the laws which require that any stay granted should be reviewed every six months. Advocate Aires Rodrigues pointed out that the stay of the criminal trial granted by the High Court on December 4, 2014 had continued for seven years contrary to the Supreme Court order that any stay granted by the High Court expires in six months and unless extension is granted, the trial must resume.
CASE FAST TRACKED
ON THE demand of advocate Aires Rodrigues in a public interest petition demanding that the Supreme Court orders should be strictly enforced, the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court promptly renewed the hearing of the case. The single judge Justice Manish Pitale of the Bombay High Court in fact posted the matter for hearing the very next day Saturday, November 27 even though it was a holiday. It was during the course of the hearing that Justice Pitale expressed shock that people who took the law into their own hands and had the audacity to attack the main police station in the capital city should be elected as legislators.
This is not the only serious criminal case pending against Babush Monserrate before the Bombay High Court. Babush also has serious criminal cases of extortion and rape pending against him. It has been alleged that Babush Monserrate bought a minor from an “aunty” and raped her. Babush, in fact, even spent eight days in jail before he secured bail. This was, of course, much less than the 20 days that Aryan Khan, the son of Shah Rukh Khan had to spend in the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai among hardened criminals for alleged seizure, possession and use of narcotic substances.
Subsequently, in its judgment, the Bombay High Court exonerated Aryan Khan of all charges. Indeed, it went to the extent of saying it was a conspiracy and even the Facebook posts that the narcotics bureau had relied upon were not relevant to the charges of seizure of drugs on the cruise ship.
MAUVIN POWER THEFT
BABUSH Monserrate is not the only member of the legislative assembly of Goa or Goan member of parliament against whom serious criminal charges are pending. There are serious criminal charges pending against the Panchayat Minister Mauvin Godinho who defected from the Congress and got himself elected on the BJP ticket from Dabolim. Ironically, the case pending against him for violating the decision of the cabinet on extending power rebates to steel rolling mills was filed by former BJP chief minister, the late Manohar Parrikar. Subsequently, following the revolt in the Congress and Mauvin becoming a member of the new government led by Francisco Sardinha of which the BJP was part of, Parrikar sought to withdraw the complaint.
Unfortunately for him, the case had already been charge sheeted and he was politely told that the case could not be withdrawn. Over 20 years later, the case is still pending in the Supreme Court. Hopefully, in the light of the strict stand taken by the current Chief Justice N V Ramana, the power scam case against Mauvin will also be expedited and fast tracked so that he is not able to contest the forthcoming elections in 2022.
Besides Mauvin Godinho, the longest pending case is against former speaker Dayanand Narvekar, who as president of the Goa Cricket Association, was accused of printing duplicate tickets and even VIP passes far beyond the capacity of the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, Fatorda for the one-day international (ODI) match between India and Australia held on April 6, 2001. All those who had valid tickets had to remain out of the stadium while those having fake tickets filled the stadium to the brim.
Coincidentally, the then chief minister late Manohar Parrikar, who was also the home minister, was present at the match. Instead of taking action against the then GCA president Narvekar, Parrikar ordered a lathi-charge against the cricket fans who had been cheated. The Supreme Court has refused to allow the public prosecutor to withdraw the case.
To partially answer the honourable Justice Pitale’s question as to how such alleged criminals get elected, it is partly because they are given tickets by all political parties. Though all of them adopt a holier than thou attitude, the Aam Aadmi party has just welcomed Dayanand Narvekar to the party and even appointed him vice-president.
THE Trinamool Congress has been specialising in offering tickets to politicians who have been accused of serious offences. It may be recalled that the late Manohar Parrikar when he was the chief minister had brought out a white paper accusing Luizinho Faleiro of bankrupting the Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Steel rolling mills which had not repaid even the principal amount let alone the interest were given fresh loans at much higher rates of interest to enable them to settle the earlier loans. This was against all principles of due diligence in extending loans. Luizinho Faleiro boasted to me that he had borrowed money from the EDC to build the Kesarval Motel and acquired other properties like the controversial Zug Mobor islands. Subsequently, the charges against Luizinho Faleiro were withdrawn in the assembly. No case of disproportionate assets was filed against Luizinho Faleiro, who is also alleged to have extorted money from Meta Strips.
The TMC is reportedly adding to its Rogue’s Gallery by inducting both Churchill Alemao and his daughter Valanka. Churchill, who is a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA, has decided to defect to the TMC as the NCP refused to offer him an additional ticket for Valanka. In fact, the Churchill clan had two seats with Joaquim Alemao also representing Cuncolim in the assembly. His place is expected to be taken by Yuri Alemao, who has been listed as one of the general secretaries of the Congress Party. Churchill Alemao and his brothers were charged of smuggling gold in hollow batteries from the Varca beach near the Ramada resort. They were all found guilty and had to pay heavy fines to get the offences compounded. Churchill has also been charge sheeted in the Louis Berger case under which massive funds worth several crore were diverted from an international water development project.
ROY DRUG PEDDLING
THERE ARE also allegations against Deputy Chief Minister Babu Kavlekar, former chief minister Ravi Naik and his son, Roy. In fact, in a video made by the girlfriend of the drug don Atala, Roy is allegedly shown purchasing drugs from the Israeli mafia chief. In the wake of the Supreme Court judgement on the mining scam, there are cases pending against former chief ministers Pratapsingh Rane and Digambar Kamat. The government of India decided to convert the mining concessions granted by the Portuguese into leases in 1987 under the Industries Act. A window of six months was provided to all states to comply with the order.
Since 1987, there was not much demand for ore and the prices were under $20 for low grade Goan ore, many firms which had mining concessions did not convert them into leases. When there was a huge boom and demand in the wake of the Olympics in China, retrospectively many of the concessions were converted into leases. The cases are still pending and no action has been taken.
Among the other MLAs and MPs who have been accused of criminal offences include former minister Mickky Pacheco, who was convicted in the case of assaulting the electricity department junior engineer Kapil Natekar. There were also cases of cheating the Majorda casino as well as cases of abetment to suicide in the infamous Nadia Torrado case.
The most successful MLAs in Goa who keep getting elected repeatedly are those who have criminal cases against them. This is because if money power does not work, then these dishonourable gentlemen will resort to muscle power. Perhaps the honourable judge will seek to find out how all the Nepali maids have suddenly acquired bicycles before the Municipal elections.
BIG DADDY KANDA
TO COME to the million dollar question of why people vote for candidates with a criminal record posed by Justice Pitale, the answer is simple. People with criminal cases keep getting re-elected not only in Goa but in every state in the country. Goa even offers sanctuary to criminals from Haryana, who are on probation ostensibly for medical treatment. We are referring to Gopal Goyal Kanda, who is serving a sentence for raping one of the airhostesses of the airline he owned. Kanda now owns the casino Big Daddy.
Voters vote for criminals as they are very good at creating and looking after their vote banks. Specifically in the case of Babush, he is not only able to get himself elected but can also finance the election of several of his colleagues in the assembly. Babush even went to the extent of getting four MLAs, including himself to resign their Congress seats and be re-elected as BJP MLAs — to rescue Parrikar whose government was under threat.
Indeed, more recently Babush Monserrate again came to the rescue of the BJP when he induced 10 of 15 Congress MLAs to join the BJP after the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and MGP withdrew support to the late Manohar Parrikar’s successor Pramod Sawant.
The answer to Justice Pitale’s question as to why people vote for criminals, the answer is clear. Regretfully, the electorate in the country and particularly in Goa has got totally corrupted. We were very amused when we keep getting updates on the TMC going home-to-home with charge sheets against the BJP. Before the last West Bengal election, it was the BJP which was issuing charge sheets against the ruling TMC. Particularly in relation to the Saradha chit scam.
As in the case of Subroto Roy of Sahara, several TMC ministers were allegedly involved with the promoter of the Saradha non-banking finance company, Sudipto Sen. If the honourable Justice Manish Pitale wants the voters to stop electing criminals then he has to ensure that those accused of crimes are not only punished promptly but barred for life from contesting elections.
At present even Lalu Prasad Yadav of the fodder scam and the late J Jayalalithaa of the disproportionate assets scam and others convicted are only barred from contesting the elections for six years. The worst part of it is that since there are several levels of appeals, even if Justice Pitale finds the Monserrates guilty, they would still be able to appeal to the Supreme Court which may not be able to follow its own advice of fast tracking criminal cases against politicians, not because it does not want to but because there are so many cases pending, if you take into account both sitting and former MLAs and MPs which is double that of the cases against sitting legislators.