PANJIM: With Panjim Judicial Magistrate First Class Mrs. Sarika Faldessai having given a last opportunity to the Prosecution to produce Father Newton Rodrigues in Court on 19th July at 10 am it will have to be seen whether the former Parish Priest of Ribandar now appears in Court.
Father Newton Rodrigues the former Parish Priest of Ribandar and now Pastor of St. Bernadette Church at Calgary in Canada has failed to remain present in Court despite being summoned and even a warrant of arrest issued against him.
It was on Fr. Newton Rodrigues’s complaint that Adv. Aires Rodrigues and 14 other Ribandar residents were charge sheeted for trespassing into the church corridor and disturbing a Parish Pastoral committee meeting.
If Fr. Newton Rodrigues fails to remain present on July 19th the Court could close the prosecution evidence and allow Adv. Aires Rodrigues to lead his evidence. Adv. Aires Rodrigues will be examining seven defence witnesses which include Archbishop of Goa Filipe Neri Ferrao and former Chief Minister of Goa Mr. Pratapsingh Rane. The other option the Court has is to stop the proceedings of the case and pass a judgment acquitting Adv. Aires Rodrigues and 14 others.
The government has over the last seven years been aggressively pursuing this case against Adv. Aires Rodrigues with the State having even challenged before the Sessions Court and later in the High Court the earlier acquittal of Adv. Aires Rodrigues in the same case.
The Prosecution has now faced a series of setbacks with the manner in which the witnesses including the Investigating officers have deposed. Old Goa Police Sub Inspector Mr. Hanshakutti who had initially investigated the case has told the Court that he did not even read Fr. Newton Rodrigues’s complaint and registered the case against Adv. Aires Rodrigues on the instructions of his superiors.
Inspector Braz Menezes who later investigated the case at the Crime Branch conceded that though he was the Investigating officer all the directions in the case were being issued by his Superiors. Inspector Menezes also conceded that then Chief Minister Mr. Pratapsingh Rane had on 4th February 2005 directed that the charge sheet against Adv. Aires Rodrigues be filed.
Crime Branch Police Sub Inspector Vinayak Mahale who later took over the investigation and filed the charge sheet against Adv. Rodrigues conceded in Court that he did no investigation in the case and that all he did for over two years was discuss the case with his superiors. He has also deposed in Court that it took him three months to xeroz the copies of the charge sheet.
In 2004 Adv. Aires Rodrigues was leading an agitation demanding action against Fr. Newton Rodrigues for having allegedly molested a 13 year old girl from Ribandar. While Adv. Aires 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 Rodrigues was closed after then Governor of Goa Mr. S.C Jamir reportedly intervened to save Fr. Newton Rodrigues from being charge sheeted.


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