PANJIM: The criminal trial of Adv. Aires Rodrigues and 14 other Ribandar residents in the 2004 Ribandar Church case will continue on June 7th before the Panaji Judicial Magistrate First Class Ms Sarika Phaldesai. The court will examine prosecution witnesses Police sub Inspectors Mr. S.L.Hunashukutti and Mr. Vinayak Mahale.
The Goa government has been vigorously pursuing the case against Adv. Aires Rodrigues. It may be recalled that Panaji Chief Judicial Magistrate Mr. P.M.Shinde had on 22nd December 2009 directed that proceedings against Adv. Rodrigues in this case be stopped. The government however after unsuccessfully challenging that order before the Sessions Court later moved the High Court for which even a Special Public Prosecutor was appointed. Then Bombay High Court Justice N.A Britto while ruling that the trial proceed conceded to Adv. Rodrigues’s request that the proceedings be expedited.
With the trial now on, the State finds itself in a dilemma with none of the prosecution witnesses so far having deposed against Adv. Aires Rodrigues. Infact with some of the witnesses going hostile the Assistant Public Prosecutor has had to cross examine her own witnesses. Fr. Newton Rodrigues on whose complaint Adv. Aires Rodrigues and 14 others were charge sheeted has been directed to remain present in Court on June 9th.
This is the second charge sheet filed by the police against Adv. Aires Rodrigues in connection with the Ribandar Church incident. While the current trial is on the complaint filed by Fr. Newton Rodrigues the earlier charge sheet was on the complaint by the Superior of Ajuda Convent at Ribandar Sister Celia Fernandes
Acquitting Adv. Aires Rodrigues on 9th April 2009 in that case the then Panaji Judicial Magistrate First Class Mrs. Sharmila Patil had in her judgment stated that the allegations against Adv. Rodrigues seem to have been manipulated and that he was falsely implicated in the case. Judge Patil had also held that the possibility of the complaint against Adv. Rodrigues having been lodged due to political interference could not be ruled out.
In 2004 Adv. Aires Rodrigues was leading an agitation demanding action against Fr. Newton Rodrigues for having allegedly molested a 13 year old Ribandar girl. While Adv. Rodrigues and others were charge sheeted for confronting
Fr. Newton Rodrigues, the case filed against Fr.Newton Rodrigues by the mother of the 13 year old girl who was allegedly molested by Fr. Newton has been closed.
A First Information Report (F.I.R) was registered at the Old Goa Police Station on 18th August 2004 against Fr. Newton Rodrigues for having allegedly molested the minor girl. The F.I.R was registered against Fr. Newton Rodrigues under Sec 354 of Indian Penal Code and Section 8(2) of the Goa Children’s Act. The mother in her complaint to the police had stated that Fr. Newton Rodrigues had taken the minor girl to his bedroom on the pretext of confession and had molested her.
The then Senior Superintendent of Police (Crime) on 30th August 2004 had opined that the Fr. Newton Rodrigues be charge sheeted. The Director of Prosecution had also opined that it was a fit case for charge sheeting Fr Newton Rodrigues.
However then Governor of Goa Mr. S.C Jamir reportedly intervened to save Fr. Newton Rodrigues from being charge sheeted. On 14th July 2005 the case file against Fr. Newton Rodrigues was sent to Governor S.C. Jamir and on 31st August 2005 the police submitted a report to the Children’s Court that the case against Fr. Newton Rodrigues be closed. Fr. Newton Rodrigues was later relieved from the Archdiocese of Goa and moved to Canada.


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