Panaji (Goa): The Crime Branch (CB) and Advocate Aires Rodrigues, faces sexual harassment charges, virtually seems to be in a hide and seek game. In the last one week, CB has issued six summonses to the lawyer-activist seeking his deposition in the criminal case while the latter flashes legal documents for not showing up before the Investigating Officer.
As his anticipatory bail application’s order is likely to be pronounced tomorrow, CB has sought his deposition today after having failed to record his statement despite four summons issued earlier.
The first time he was issued summons, Adv Rodrigues on December 7 wrote to the CB seeking that the date be re-scheduled as he has moved the Panjim Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) urging that Court monitor the investigation and in the interest of justice the investigation be entrusted to any officer other than Police Inspector Dattaguru Sawant. However, the CB has called it an irrelevant reason for refraining from deposing in the case. “He has given irrelevant reason (not to appear in the case). If he fails to depose on Friday, it will treated that he is not cooperating with the investigation,” SP Kartik Kashyap had told reporters.
Even as the JMFC scheduled the matter for hearing on December 12, CB served fresh summons on Rodrigues asking to appear at CB office, Ribandar at 3pm on Friday. In his letter to the CB, he requested to reschedule to 11am as he had to attend a funeral service of his ‘close friend’ in Panjim. The CB Investigating Officer Sawant however expressed his inability citing that he was busy investigating other cases.
It was then that third summons letter was sent through Old Goa police station, asking him to remain present at 3pm on Saturday. By this time, Rodrigues had already filed anticipatory bail application in the North Goa Principal District & Sessions Court, which after hearings has reserved the order for tomorrow, December 14. During this period till date, Rodrigues was issued two more summonses by the CB IO.
Rodrigues has time and again been claiming that he has not received summons, and confirms receiving it in the last minute. “Have not received any summons to appear before CB today, have only read about all this gossip in the newspaper this morning,” he had posted a Whatsapp message on Tuesday. “When I appeared before Sawant on December 8 at the CB, I told him he could even telephonically inform me when my presence is required. I had also requested him to please procure from the complainant a copy of the so called ghost video which she has falsely alleged that I have uploaded on social media,” he further stated.
The case was transferred to the CB over a week ago after NGO Savera doubted the Anjuna police’s investigation that initially registered FIR under sections 354 (A) (iv)(sexual harassment), 509 (words or gesture to insult modesty of a woman), 500 (punishment for defamation) of Indian Penal Code. In her complaint, the woman victim alleged that on November 4, 2017, Rodrigues had circulated on Facebook and Whatsapp an alleged video footage of Minister Vinod Paliencar with her. The complainant also claimed that on November 7, Rodrigues circulated her picture on Whatsapp linking her to the alleged sex scandal. The lawyer has filed a counter complaint against the victim, her husband and two others at the Old Goa Police Station for trespassing into his property and attacking him. The investigation is underway wherein all the four persons are made an accused.