SPP, POLICE COLLUDE TO ACQUIT NARVEKAR!

In his judgement the Judicial Magistrate Carlo Santana da Silva, pointed out that neither of the two special public prosecutors appointed by the Goa government, showed any interest in getting a conviction. The judge also blasted the investigating officers who claimed the witnesses were untraceable!

J U D G E M E N T (Delivered on this the 8th day of July of the year 2022)

  1. This judgment shall dispose of the above mentioned criminal case, which arose out of a chargesheet filed by the Margao Town Police Station alleging that the nine Accused, in furtherance of theircriminal conspiracy, committed offences under sections 468, 471, 201, 420 and 465 read with section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code.

CASE OF THE PROSECUTION

  1. That on or before 15.02.2001, the Accused nos. 1, 2 and 3 being Members of the Tender Committee of the Goa Cricket Association, intentionally and criminally conspired with the Ticket Contractor i.e. the Accused no. 4 for the sale of tickets, by manipulation in the tender for the One Day International Cricket match between India and Australia, held on 06.04.2001, at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, Margao, Goa and awarded the contract to the Accused no. 4 for a consideration of Rs.68,00,000/-.
  2. That in furtherance of their criminal conspiracy, the Accused nos. 1 to 3, who were the Members of the Tender Committee, intentionally placed an order for 29,000 tickets/complimentary passes with Hitech Print System, Hyderabad – which was beyond the capacity of the Stadium – which is said to be 27,300 seats. That in execution of their criminal conspiracy, the excess tickets/complimentary passes numbering 1,650, worth Rs.9,37,500/-, were unauthorisedly diverted to the Accused no. 9, who is the brother in law of the Accused no. 1, for sale and the Accused no. 9 sold the said tickets for a higher premium to the general public and cheated them.
  3. Further, the Accused nos. 1 to 3, in furtherance of the criminal conspiracy and with dishonest intention, sold 1,450 tickets of Rs.200/- denomination and 350 tickets of Rs.500/- denomination, totally amounting to Rs.4,65,000/- to Pepsi illegally and in execution of the said criminal conspiracy, the Accused no. 2 received an amount of Rs.4,65,000/- by cheque, which was diverted to his private account.
  4. That in furtherance of their criminal conspiracy, the Accused nos. 1 to 3 intentionally got printed 760 more tickets from Hitech Print System, Hyderabad, for the said One Day International Cricket match and in execution of the said criminal conspiracy, the Accused nos. 1 to 3 sold tickets for 59 boxes to Pepsi illegally and the remaining tickets were sold by them illegally.
  5. That the Accused nos. 1 to 3 further criminally conspired and intentionally got printed 700 fake tickets/complimentary passes from Classic Computers, Panaji and illegally sold them to the general public. That in furtherance of their criminal conspiracy hatched by the Accused nos. 1 to 4, the said Accused nos. 1 to 3 being Tender Committee members, without obtaining a bank guarantee and in violation of the conditions of the agreement, intentionally provided all denomination tickets at one time to the Accused no. 4, so as to enable and facilitate him to print fake tickets and in execution of the said criminal conspiracy, the Accused nos. 4, 5 and 6 printed 21,000 fake tickets of denominations of Rs.1,000/-, Rs.750/-, Rs.500/- and Rs.200/-, at Yessar Printers, Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, worth Rs.71,25,000/- and the Accused nos. 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 knowingly participated in the criminal conspiracy by circulating and selling the said tickets to the general public and thereby cheated the public.
  6. That the Accused nos. 2 and 3 being members of the Tender Committee and Security Committee for the said One Day International genuine ticket holders were denied entry to watch the cricket match.
  7. Further, the Accused nos. 1 to 3 in furtherance of their criminal conspiracy and intentionally fabricated Minutes of Meetings dated 23.03.2001 and 04.04.2001, in order to cover up illegal acts and thereby committed forgery.
  8. That in furtherance of their criminal conspiracy, the balance fake tickets were burnt and destroyed by the Accused nos. 4 and 5 at Rawanfond, Margao. 10. Hence, the charges alleging offences under sections 468, 471, 201, 420 and 465 read with Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code.

IMPORTANT OBSERVATIONS

  1. It is pertinent to mention that since the Accused no. 1 was, at the relevant time, a Member of the Goa Legislative Assembly, pursuant to subsequent directions issued by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, this matter was assigned and transferred to this Court hearing matters against MP’s, MLA’s and MLC’s.
  2. It is also pertinent to mention that from inception, this matter was being conducted by Special Public Prosecutors appointed for this matter, by the Government of Goa.
  3. The records indicate that vide Order dated 06.09.2006, issued by the Law Department, Advocate Mr. Vinay Borkar was appointed as a Special Public Prosecutor in this matter. The record also indicates that Advocate Mr. Pritam Moraes was also appointed as a Special Public Prosecutor to assist Advocate Mr. Vinay Borkar in this matter.
  4. The record indicates that vide Memo at exhibit 1040, Advocate Mr. Pritam Moraes placed on record a letter dated 05.08.2021, addressed by him to the Under Secretary (Home), Government of Goa, seeking to relieve him from this matter due to personal reasons and other work commitments. Nothing was heard from the State, even upto today, regarding the said letter/application made by Advocate Mr. Pritam Moraes seeking that he be relieved from this matter. The said Special Public Prosecutor stopped appearing after he gave notice to the State. As far as the Court was concerned, the lead Special Public Prosecutor, Mr. Vinay Borkar continued appearing and continued his attempts to conduct the matter on behalf of the State.
  5. Later on 11.03.2022, the Special Public Prosecutor, Mr. Vinay Borkar filed an application before this Court (exhibit 1082) seeking that he too be allowed to withdraw his appearance from this case. The said application was accompanied by a letter dated 10.03.2022, addressed by him to the Under Secretary (Establishment), Government of Goa, seeking his withdrawal of appearance. Vide Order passed by the Court on that day, the Special Public Prosecutor was directed to take instructions from the State Government, as he was specifically appointed vide Order issued by the Law Department.
  6. Thereafter, on 16.04.2022, the Special Public Prosecutor, Mr. Vinay Borkar filed another Memo before the Court (exhibit 1087) placing on record his letter dated 12.04.2022, addressed to the Under Secretary (Establishment), Government of Goa, wherein the Special Public Prosecutor reminded the State that this Court had interalia given the State a last and final opportunity to prosecute the matter and interalia requiring the State to take serious and not only cosmetic steps in prosecuting the matter. Nothing was heard from the State, even upto today, regarding the application made by Special Public Prosecutor, Mr. Vinay Borkar. Since that day, the Special Public Prosecutor also stopped appearing in this matter, after he gave notice (and also a reminder) to the State.

OTHER OBSERVATIONS

  1. Upon appearance, the various Accused were furnished with the copies of the case papers and documents, in compliance with section 207 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The Charge was explained to each of the Accused, to which each of the Accused pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried.
  2. The Prosecution then led evidence wherein they examined 82 witnesses in support of its case. Thereafter on 16.04.2022, the evidence of the prosecution was closed, since the Court found that the State was not prosecuting the matter. Thereafter, upon perusing the Therefore, earlier today, final arguments were heard and now this judgment.
  3. Heard Advocate Mr. Kapil D. Kerkar for the Accused nos. 1 and 9, Advocate Mr. Sarvesh V. Rege for the Accused nos. 2 and 8, Advocate Mr. James Lopes for the Accused nos. 3 and 5 (who was also holding for Advocate Mr. Anacleto Viegas and argued for the Accused nos. 4 and 7) and Advocate Mr. Suhas Velip for the Accused no. 6. I have perused the record. I have also perused the written arguments filed by the Accused nos. 1 and 9 and also the written arguments filed by the Accused nos. 2 and 8. I have perused the remaining record.
  4. I must also mention that none argued on behalf of the State. Below I will discuss about the application filed by Advocate Mr. Nitin Sawant on behalf of the State.
    R E A S O N S
  5. As mentioned, the prosecution examined 82 witnesses. Upon perusing the deposition of each of the 82 witnesses, I gather that the One Day International cricket match was organized by the Goa Cricket Association. Not a single of the 82 witnesses reported about even a single incident inside the Stadium. I make this observation because it was alleged that the Stadium got overcrowded. Whatever may have happened, was all outside the Stadium. I gather from the material available on record that the cricket match was successfully played.
  6. The Prosecution alleges that the capacity of the stadium was 27,300 seats. It is alleged that the Accused nos. 1 to 3, who were the Members of the Tender Committee, intentionally placed an order for 29,000 tickets/complimentary passes with Hitech Print System, Hyderabad – which was beyond the capacity of the Stadium. On this aspect, it is observed that the Prosecution has not led any evidence to prove to the Court that the capacity of the stadium was indeed 27,300 seats. cricket match. Those two Meetings, which were held on 15.02.2001 and 17.03.2001, were very high level meetings. Both those Meetings were chaired by none other then the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Goa. It must also be mentioned that amongst those in attendance at those two Meetings were the Hon’ble Minister for Sports, the Hon’ble Minister for Power, the Hon’ble Minister for Forest, the Chief Secretary of Goa, the Director General of Police, the Collector of South Goa and the Director of the Sports Authority of Goa. In both the Minutes of the Meetings, it was clearly recorded that the seating capacity of the Stadium was 30,000 seats. Those two documents fly in the face of the contention of the Prosecution that the seating capacity of the stadium were only 27,300 seats
  7. There would be no one more appropriate than the Director of the Sports Authority of Goa to certify, based on his office records, as to the seating capacity of the Stadium. After all, the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, where the One Day International cricket match was held, is owned by the Sports Authority of Goa. The Director of the Sports Authority of Goa or any official of the Sports Authority of Goa or the Stadium Manager were also not examined in this trial to prove, before the Court, the capacity of the said Stadium. Therefore, even assuming a situation where the Prosecution had come to establish (which they have not) that those 1,650 extra tickets were printed, still the Court would have to observe, upon making a very simple arithmetic calculation, that 27,300 + 1650 = 28,950 tickets. That figure is still below the 30,000 seats capacity of the said Stadium. In other words, the allegation that the Accused nos. 1 to 3 intentionally placed an order for 29,000 tickets/complimentary passes with Hitech Print System, Hyderabad, which was beyond the capacity of the Stadium, is obviously without any substance.
  8. I must also observe that the allegation is that the extra/fake tickets/complimentary passes were printed at Hitech Print Systems, Hyderabad and at Classic Computers, Panaji. The Prosecution has not exhibited any panchanama conducted at those two places, which may have brought forth any evidence to show that tickets/complimentary passes were printed at those two places. Even the owners/in-charge of each of those two places were not examined in this trial. There is absolutely no evidence produced on that aspect. Therefore the prosecution is completely unable to substantiate their claim that the Accused no. 1 placed an order for tickets to be printed in those two places.
  9. There is also absolutely no evidence produced on record to substantiate the claim that any of the Accused, who were office bearers of the Goa Cricket Association, had knowledge about the printing of the alleged fake tickets/complimentary passes.
  10. There is also absolutely no evidence which would reveal that even a single Rupee reached the hands or the Bank Account of the Accused no. 1 and/or Accused no. 2 and/or Accused no. 3 – who were all office bearers of the Goa Cricket Association.
  11. The prosecution produced, at exhibit 519, a panchanama purportedly conducted at Yessar Printers, Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu. During the said panchanama, certain documentation including positives of the purported fake tickets/complimentary passes were allegedly attached. However, none of those attached documents, including some alleged positives, were exhibited during this trial. They were marked for identification. There were also subsequently never exhibited.
  12. That apart, Mr. Longinhos Fernandes (PW31) who was supposed to be one of the pancha witnesses in that panchanama. He deposed that the said panchanama (purportedly conducted at Tamil Nadu) was actually written at the Margao Town Police Station.
  13. The Prosecution tried to save the day by examining the other pancha witness, namely Mr. Chandrakant Parab (PW32). This witness deposed that the panchanama was conducted at Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, but he could not even recall what were the documents attached. In sum and substance, his deposition did not inspire confidence.
  14. Be that as it may, as mentioned, the allegedly attached documents were never exhibited in this trial. The owners/in-charge of the press has also not been examined in this trial. The Investigating Officer who conducted the said panchanama was also not examined in this trial. In other words, the contents of the panchanama at exhibit 519 has not been proved.
  15. The prosecution has produced some tickets/complimentary passes on record. It is pertinent to mention that during the course of oral evidence, the Court heard Mr. Naneshwar Naik (PW25) depose that there was no equipment to check the authenticity of the tickets at the Stadium. Upon perusing the record I gathered that during the course of the investigation, the prosecution got some of the allegedly fake tickets/complimentary passes examined by the forensic experts at CFSL, Hyderabad. The said Forensic Report was never exhibited in this trial. The forensic experts from CFSL, Hyderabad have also not been examined in the trial. In other words, there is absolutely no evidence on record, forensic or otherwise, to substantiate the claim of the prosecution that fake tickets/complimentary passes were printed. That hits at the very essence of this chargesheet. 45. There is no dispute that Mr. Chinmay Fallary (Accused no. 4), was appointed by the eleven member Managing Committee of the Goa Cricket Association as the ticket contractor. I gather from the record that the Accused no. 4 was required to sell the match tickets. I must also mention that there is evidence that tickets were being sold at the tickets counters of the Stadium. At this juncture I must mention that not a single out of the 82 witnesses have deposed that they bought tickets at the ticket counters and that they were denied entry into the Stadium on the ground that the tickets were fake.
  16. I must also mention that there is quantity of evidence that tickets were being sold outside the Stadium. However, during the course of investigation, the police have not identified any of those persons. Most importantly the police have not established any link between those persons selling tickets outside the Stadium and any of the Accused. Besides not establishing that any of the exhibited tickets were fake, the Prosecution has also not established the chain of circumstances linking to any of those persons to any of the Accused herein. That, in my view, was required as the Prosecution has made allegations of criminal conspiracy.
  17. I must now make reference to the deposition of Mr. Shaikh Usman (PW43). This person attempted to depose that he bought five tickets from Mr. Chinmay Fallary (Accused no. 4). However, during his further examination in chief, he changed his version and deposed that he inquired with the Accused no. 4 on whether he has any tickets for sale and that the Accused no. 4 directed him to a person sitting outside his shop – an unknown person. The identity of that person was not established. The prosecution has also not established the allegations of the criminal conspiracy between the Accused no. 4 and/or the other Accused with the said unknown person. The said
    O R D E R
    (i) The Accused nos. 1 to 9 are all acquitted of the offences under sections 468, 471, 201, 420 and 465 read with section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code. (ii) The nine Accused are directed to furnish their bonds of Rs.10,000/-, as required under section 437-A Cr.P.C., within 30 days from today, if they have not done so already. (iii) The cash MO’s are to be forfeited in the favour of the State. The computers and the peripherals shall be retained for a period of four months (to enable the State to claim the same, if they so desire) and thereafter shall be disposed of. All other MO’s ordered to be destroyed, after expiry of the appeal period. Dictated and Pronounced in the Open Court. (Carlo Santana da Silva) Judicial Magistrate First Class, I Addl. Court, Margao, Goa.

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