PROSECUTOR, THE VITAL LINK!By Dr Olav Albuquerque

By Dr Olav Albuquerque

THE Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP) or Public Prosecutor (PP) is a vital link between the Investigating Officer and the Judge, who will convict or acquit a criminal because the judge has to rely upon the evidence brought-on-record by the prosecutor. When a police sub-inspector (PSI) files a defective charge-sheet against an accused in court, the prosecutor takes over so that the charge which is framed against the accused by the court is based upon what the charge-sheet contains, although the judge can add more offences against the accused. The role of the police ends after the charge-sheet is filed in court.
LLB graduates who are selected as APPs are promoted to PPs after several years of service in the magistrates’ courts even though they have low conviction rates. They must master the facts of a case before they address the court. Overburdened with many files, most of them do not bother to contact the complainant for his version of the crime, but read the file and summon the investigating officer (IO) who may be corrupt or is very often incompetent.

CRIME ON TRIAL
WHEN the crime goes for trial, the judge has no choice but to discharge or acquit the criminal. Like Francis Pereira who allegedly demolished shrines of both Catholics and Hindus in south Goa, but was discharged because thoroughly incompetent IOs relied on his confessions, but were grossly negligent in seizing corroborative evidence.
The list is endless. Like Scarlett Keeling who was raped and murdered but the IO recorded it as a case of accidental death. He was suspended and later reinstated. PI Sunita Sawant who botched up the alleged rape of a woman journo by high-profile editor Tarun Tejpal, but was promoted as Dy SP. Like these inept police, negligent APPs are also promoted as PPs irrespective of their conviction rate. So, useless police officers and grossly negligent APPs ensure criminals go scot free.
In Goa, an APP’s salary is roughly Rs75,000/- per month which is slightly higher than the salary of a police sub-inspector. After a negligent APP is promoted to a PP, his salary is roughly Rs1 lakh per month which is again, very roughly, what a negligent Police Inspector draws. I have come across grossly negligent PIs like Devendra Gad, his former subordinates PSI (now PI) Dinesh Gadekar and PSI (now PI) Videsh Shirodkar, and an Assistant Sub Inspector Chandrakant Velip in Salcette (now promoted as PSI) who ruined my criminal complaints but were automatically promoted despite my complaints against them to the SP and DGP.
Similarly, an APP I complained against was promoted to PP by his boss despite my complaint against him. His boss, a former Director of Prosecutions promoted this APP to PP by lying there was no earlier complaint against him. An activist-advocate had asked this same APP (as he then was) should be replaced by a colleague as he was allegedly delaying the trial of a Catholic priest accused of molesting a minor girl whom he had called for confession.

90% NO BRIBES!
AMONG all the APPs in Goa, 90% do not take bribes, while one APP has the reputation of having built a flat by accepting illegal gratification to dilute a few cases. In Mumbai city, where I represented big builders, a few prosecutors in court had approached me saying in Hindi. “We will take care of your clients. Tell them to speak to us.” We must remember, only a few of these prosecutors accept bribes in cases where there are high stakes. They are scrupulously honest in other cases.
After clearing their LL.B, these aspiring prosecutors give a computerized exam conducted by the GPSC where their results are announced on-the-spot. Successful candidates next appear for an interview before a GPSC panel comprising a retired high court judge, an advocate practicing in the high court apart from other members.
Instead of doing research and collecting the latest case law on subjects such as whether a complainant can take part in court proceedings, lazy or incompetent prosecutors “leave the decision to the wisdom of the court,” which may sometimes go against the complainant. This is because few prosecutors will point out the gross negligence of incompetent IOs to the court so that there can be a re-investigation or further investigation. The police officers and the prosecutors both draw their salaries from the Goa exchequer which is filled by tax-paying citizens.
In 2010, I had the misfortune of approaching the Porvorim Police to register an FIR in a case of fabrication of an inward register of the village panchayat of Salvador do Mundo. The then PI in-charge of Porvorim police station, an allegedly notorious cop by the name of Devendra Gad, told me to seize the inward register from the panchayat and bring it to the police station myself. I was left aghast because I would be arrested for stealing public property.
His subordinate, PSI Dinesh Gadekar, told me I had no business to complain to the police although I was the victim. “The Sarpanch or the Secretary should complain. Not you,” he said. Fed up with such useless policemen I in-warded a complaint to the DGP’s office and left for Mumbai. My complaint contained all the photographs of an illegal house built to grab my ancestral land.
An excellent IGP, Sundari Nanda, wrote on my complaint giving details of how one Mahadev Shirodkar had allegedly built a house to grab 1,250 square metres of land: ”Why was no FIR lodged?” To oblige her this delinquent PSI Dinesh Gadekar recorded an FIR against two accused, Ritesh Gadkar and Bhagwant Naik for allegedly fabricating an inward register. He left out the name of the third accused, Mahadev Shirodkar, whose relative through marriage, Bhagwant Naik, had allegedly ordered the clerk Ritesh Gadkar to allegedly fabricate an inward entry.
When I went to meet the IO who had charge-sheeted the two accused, PSI Videsh Shirodkar kept me waiting for hours in the police station until I approached his superior, Dy SP Nandakumar Raikar, who wrote to the Director of Prosecutions, Shiral Monteiro. Despite Monteiro replying that the third suspect had to be charge-sheeted, PSI Videsh Shirodkar filed a separate charge-sheet in a separate court, resulting in the first two accused being discharged because the APP was unable to strongly oppose the discharge application of the accused culminating in the discharge of two accused persons. This APP refused to submit the wrong discharge order for revision.
Today, after over 10 years have passed, the charges have not been framed in these cases, but the delinquent PSI Dinesh Gadekar and Videsh Shirodkar have been promoted to Police Inspectors where they may allegedly ruin more cases, while the APP has been promoted to Public Prosecutor because a certain Director of Prosecutions (DOP) declared: “This APP is not guilty of gross negligence.” This DoP never called me to depose in an allegedly sham inquiry held against this APP.
So, there you have it. Crimes are now rising in Goa with some indifferent policemen and prosecutors allegedly playing a role in discharge and acquittals of those who rape, murder and rob Goans.

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