Midnight murder: Did Ponda police get the right man?

Wahid’s life was simple. He was a mason who also doubled as a job recruiter for a commission. That was until he gave Mohan Biswal of Kendrapada, Odisha a job in Ponda, little knowing that it would eventually lead to his death.

It was on the night of 26 March, 2011 that the duo got into a quarrel over commission owed by Biswal to Wahid for giving him a job.

On the fateful night, Darmesh Singh, who lived at Shantinagar, Ponda went to bed around 10.30 pm. About the same time he heard Wahid arguing loudly with Biswal. An hour later he woke up to answer nature’s call when he saw the Biswal approaching his room. “Chaku dal ke aya,” he said, but Darmesh did not make much of it and went back to sleep. He later recalled that Biswal was wearing a red t-shirt and trousers.

Sometime between 10.15 and 11 pm, Maruti Hindimani was returning homing after some last minute shopping. He had crossed Sairaj Park building complex when he saw Biswal and Wahid quarreling with each other on the road. He waited for two minutes, but decided not to intervene and left.

On that same night, Rajpayeng was on security guard duty at Sairaj Park. He arrived around 8 pm and at 11.30 pm he noticed a person rushing toward the gate. The person was holding his stomach and blood was oozing out. The man shouted, “Security, security, kuta mara, police ko bulao,” and fell to the ground.

Rajpayeng poured water on the wound to cleanse it and tried to stop the bleeding by tying a towel. He put in a call to 108 and an ambulance arrived around midnight, but it was too late.

Darmesh, Maruti and Rajpayeng would later become important witnesses for the prosecution.

Police Sub Inspector Nikhil Palekar was the first to arrive on the scene on receiving information about the murder. He called Police Inspector Chetan Patil, who would become the investigating officer in the case.

The police recovered a pair of black coloured sandals from the scene of the murder and a cell phone from the pocked of the dead man. The police tracked Biswal at Agassaim and arrested him the following day.

Acting on information given by the accused, the police along with two panch witnesses left for Sairaj Park where Biswal showed them the spot where he had stabbed Wahid. He then led them to his room at Shantinagar. He took out a key kept below the tin roof, opened the door and recovered the clothes he was wearing when he stabbed Wahid, from under the bed-sheet. The t-shirt had blood stains on it. He also recovered the blood-stained knife.

With the recovery of the clothes and murder weapon, it looked like an open and shut case, but the police were unprepared for the defence counsel, who ripped the case apart in the trial court.

Biswal was acquitted on February 27, 2015 which prompted the prosecution to knock on the doors of the high court.

In the high court, the prosecution lawyer used Hindimani, Darmesh and Rajpayeng’s testimony to drive home the point that Wahid was last seen with Biswal and this meant that only he could have committed the murder. The high court, however, took a different view. It stated that Hindimani had seen the duo arguing around 11 pm and the security guard saw Wahid rushing toward the gate with a stab wound around 11.30 pm. What happened in the half-an-hour gap between 11  and 11.30 pm? Wasn’t there enough time for a third person to enter the scene?

Also when Hindamani was show a photo he failed to identify Wahid. Darmesh’s evidence was not accepted by the court because he heard them quarrelling, but had not seen them.

Then came the issue of motive and the prosecution had to prove that Biswal owed Wahid money. This theory fell apart on the testimony of Wahid’s wife, Pravin Munshi. She said she had received a call from her husband hours before he was killed. He told her he would collect money from the contractor Suresh, for whom he worked. She also admitted that her husband was supposed to get commissions from Suresh, which meant there was no commission to be received from Biswal. Besides, Suresh was not brought in court as a witness. With this development, the prosecution failed to prove motive.

Having bungled twice, the prosecution then relied on the discovery of the murder weapon and the blood stained clothes. But the high court ruled that since the prosecution had failed to prove the motive and the ‘last seen’ theory, the discovery of the clothes and murder weapon was academic.

To add insult to injury, the CSFL laboratory identified the blood on the knife and t-shirt as B, whereas the Goa Medical College had described the murdered man’s blood group as BRh +ve. “The Rh factor is important in the blood group of any person,” the high court noted.

The High Court of Bombay at Goa on 25 April upheld the findings of the trial court and emphasized that the order of acquittal is proper and correct.

However, the question that still remains unanswered is, was Biswal innocent, or did he get away with murder due to shoddy investigation by the Ponda police?

(This narration of events is based on the High Court of Bombay at Goa judgement dated 25 April acquitting Biswal.)

Gambling: Cops fail to explain how ‘flash’ is played, accused freed

Three persons – Parilal Morya, Gautam Pati and Diago Moraes, were recently acquitted by JMFC, Margao of charges of conducting gambling activity after police failed to explain how the card game ‘flash’ is played.

According to the prosecution, the trio was apprehended by Margao Town Police while playing the card game ‘flash’ near Frisco Bar, Aquem-Baixo, Navelim in September, 2015. Around Rs 1,100 and 52 playing cards were seized from the accused.

However, in the cross examination Devendra Pingle of the Margao Town Police Station told the court that he neither knew how to play ‘flash’ nor the denominations of the cash seized.

The judgement stated that the term gambling involves three essential ingredients – consideration, chance and prize. “In the event either one of the above three ingredients is missing there cannot be any gambling activity.”

“Merely playing in the open place with cards does not amount to involvement in any gambling activity, unless it is proved that such playing was in anticipation of winning any prize money in any game of mere chance,” the judgement dated 8 April, stated.

Hence, the prosecution failed to prove that ‘flash’ was a game of chance and no skill was required.

While assistant public prosecutor R Dessai represented the state, Advocate P Rajadhyax argued for Gautam and Diago. Parilal died during the course of the hearings.

Diamond bangle theft: Cops use wrong section, accused walks free

Indramal Joshi, resident of Versova, Mumbai was recently acquitted by JMFC, Panaji of charges of purchasing a diamond bangle from a couple who allegedly stole it from a jewellery shop in Panaji.

In November 2008, Hanif Kalsekar and his wife Saman induced the staff of Inter Gold Gems Pvt Ltd at Panaji to deliver a gold bangle with a solitare diamond costing Rs 4.75 lakh by swiping their ICICI credit card at the machine.

A bank settlement slip was generated stating that the transaction was successful. However, on the next day the staff learnt from ICICI bank that the card was genuine but that the credit limit had been exceeded and the money was not released.

The bangle was apparently sold to Joshi and it was recovered by the police during the investigation. Joshi was charged under section 411 of IPC for dishonestly receiving stolen property.

However, the judgement pointed out that Joshi could not be convicted as the police had used the wrong IPC section. If any person is to be charged under section 411, then the main section under which co-accused should be charged is Section 380 which is theft from a dwelling place.

Instead, Hanif and his wife (main accused) were charged under Section 420, which is dishonesty and cheating.

The argument of the court was simple. If property was not stolen (section 380) then there is no question of receiving stolen property (section 411).

“This accused has been charged under the wrong section of the IPC and therefore deserves a clean chit in this case,” the judgement, dated 5 April, noted.

While public prosecutor R Barreto represented the State, Advocate M D’Souza defended the accused.

Hanif and his wife are absconding and are yet to be brought to trial.



St Jose de Areal villagers objection to construction licence over-ruled

The High Court of Bombay at Goa recently directed the St Jose de Areal panchayat to comply with the order of the Additional Director of Panchayats and issue a construction licence to Shaikh Muktar.

Muktar had filed an application before the panchayat for a construction licence on 13 February, 2017 which was rejected a month later. Muktar approached the additional director of panchayats, South Goa which directed the panchayat to issue the licence. However, this order was not complied with.

When the matter came up in High Court the panchayat said the licence could not be issued as villagers had objected to the construction. The court however, directed the panchayat to issue the licence with the conditions prescribed by the additional director of panchayats.

Asserting that the panchayat could not refuse to issue the licence, the judgement delivered on 11 March added, “The grievances of the villagers if any, would be taken care of by the said conditions.”

Fatal accident: Motorcyclist was rash, says acquitted bus driver

Jose Lobo, who was accused of driving a Kadamba Transport Corporation bus in a rash and negligent manner and causing the death of a two-wheeler rider, was recently acquitted of the charges by JMFC, Pernem.

According to the prosecution, on 10 December, 2016, around 7.10 pm, the bus driven by the accused struck a Bajaj Pulsar motorcycle which was dragged for 43 metres from the point of impact. The accident occurred near Mahadev Temple, Ugvem, Pernem.

The rider Omkar Kulkarni sustained severe injuries and died on the way to primary health centre, Parcem.

Lobo did not deny that he was driving the bus but stated that he was at a slow speed when the motorcycle, which was being ridden in a rash and negligent manner, struck the bus on the right side.

With no witness to the accident the prosecution failed to prove the case against Lobo. The judgement noted, “besides the sketch and the panchanama there is no other material evidence to confirm the point of impact at the scene of the accident.”

“There is nothing on record even to remotely suggest that the Kadamba bus was being driven in a rash and negligent manner and as such while overtaking or over-speeding had dashed the motorcycle,” the judgement stated.

Advocate P Shahapurkar represented the accused while Assistant Public Prosecutor appeared or the State. The judgement was delivered on 1 April.

Porvorim policeman gets bail on technical grounds

A policeman, resident of police quarters, Provorim was recently granted conditional bail by JMFC, Mapusa. He was charged under several bailable sections of the IPC and Section 452, which is non-bailable and punishable with imprisonment up to seven years and a fine.

The policeman and his wife have been instructed by the court not to visit the police quarters at Porvorim until the chargesheet is filed.

The order also stated that the policeman’s wife shall not visit Porvorim for 120 days commencing 1 April, when the order was passed. The policeman can only visit Porvorim for the purpose of making himself present at the police station to assist the investing

The policeman was accused of trespassing into the residence the girl victim and threatening her. The victim’s lawyer claimed in court that he had molested her. The investigating officer, while opposing bail said the accused “has multiple criminal cases pending against him and was previously involved in crimes of a similar nature”.

The accused policeman was denied bail in the same case, but was released as the arrest had been effected without giving notice, which was made mandatory by the Supreme Court.

In the present case the victim was allowed to intervene in the proceedings and have her say in the matter.





Two Karnataka natives convicted of murdering brother

Two brother, Hiru and Taru Chawan, were recently convicted by Additional Sessions Court of Panaji sitting at Ponda, of the charge of murdering their brother on 18 November, 2011.

According to the prosecution, the duo went to the residence of their brother, Thawru Chawan  at Ashewada, Bethoda around 7.45 pm armed with a knife and after an altercation over money, stabbed him to death.

The murder was committed in the presence of the deceased’s wife, Sushila, who turned out to be the star witness for the prosecution.

Both the brothers, originally from Karnataka, in their statement to the police, admitted that they had gone to Thawru’s house and that an altercation broke out, but denied murdering him.

However, the duo could not explain how blood stains of the deceased were found on their clothes and how they came to be in possession of the knife which was also stained with blood.

Also, the owner of the shop told the court that that knife which was used in the murder was purchased by Hiru and he identified the murder weapon.

Taru, the second accused, tried to wriggle out by stating that the fight broke out between the deceased and Hiru while he stood outside. However, the evidence provided by Sushila who clearly stated that Taru caught her husband from the back while Hiru stabbed him thrice – in the neck, chest and back, nailed them.

Hiru was arrested after a chase by the Ponda police, which took them to Anmod ghat. There on learning for a bus passenger that one person had alighted from the bus, they continued their search in the jungle and arrested Hiru. The second accused was picked up from behind ITI college. Both had blood stains on their clothes.

Advocate E Fernandes represented Hiru Chawan while Adv A Gaonkar represented Taru Chawan. Public Prosecutor Satyawan Dessai represented the State. The judgement was delivered on 30 March.

Saligao Panchayat peon wins battle to keep job

Nandalal Kerkar, recently won a legal battle to keep his job as peon at the Saligao village panchayat when the High Court of Bombay at Goa set aside the order terminating his services.

The services of Kerkar were terminated on 24 July, 2018 on grounds that they were “no more required”. Along with the termination letter, he was also furnished a copy of the resolution passed by the panchayat.

The court in its judgement noted, “such order of termination, which, undoubtedly visits the Petitioner with civil consequences, could not have been made without compliance with the principle of natural justice as also, the compliance with any further statutory provisions, if at all applicable.”

Advocate for the panchayat, C A Ferreira argued that compliance with statutory rules did not arise as there was a basic infirmity in the appointment, but it was not accepted by the court, which noted that Kerkar had worked for the panchayat for two years prior to the termination.

The court set aside the termination letter and ordered reinstatement of Kerkar with all consequential benefits. Kerkar was represented by Devidas Pangam.





Court stops proceedings in matka case

JMFC Margao stopped proceedings against Neeraj Jain, a native of Delhi residing at Colva, Salcete in a matka case after discovering that the evidence was insufficient to convict him.

According to the prosecution, Neeraj was caught accepting bets on 7 December, 2018 near Joseph Restaurant, Colva and was charged under the Public Gambling Act.

During the course of the hearing it came to light that there was not enough evidence to convict the accused and arguments for stoppage of proceedings were initiated under Section 258 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The judgement, dated 8 April, noted that although Neeraj was charged with accepting matka bets, nowhere in the Act is the game of matka defined. It further emphasized that mere acceptance of money and issuing to slips cannot be termed as gambling activity. Therefore the offence against the accused is not made out.

While Advocate Vernekar appeared for the accused, the state was represented by APP R Dessai.








Time period for TCP to reconsider Curtorim hotel licence up


The six weeks granted by High Court of Bombay at Goa to the Town and Country Planning Department (TCP) to consider the application made by Ira Exotica private Limited for construction of a hotel at Curtorim, Salcete ended a few day back.

The directive was given on a writ petition filed by the company challenging the 19 January, 2018 order of the TCP which maintained that the width of the road leading to the hotel was less that 8 mts. The order was however, silent on whether Ira Exotica was entitled to a licence or not.

The company had obtained technical clearance for the project from the TCP, but on 29 September, 2015 it was revoked on grounds that the road width was not 8 mts in certain areas.

Ira Exotica approached the high court and on 3 July, 2017, TCP was directed to consider the application of the company on merits within three months. Accordingly, on 19 January, 2018 the TCP passed an order acknowledging that the road width had been reduced due to construction of illegal walls, but was silent on whether a licence could be granted or not.

While setting aside the 19 January order of the TCP, the court noted that Clause 6A.4 (16) states that, “while computing the width of the right of way available at the site the following structures shall not be considered as reducing the available access; illegal structures, religious structures, illegal encroachments, culverts, trees, public utility installations and the like. In case the proposed development is affected by any bottlenecks such as an existing compound wall old structures which do not exceed 75 meters in length at any given point, permission may be granted.”

The court order, dated 4 March, 2019 has given the TCP a last chance to consider the application even though it obliquely noted that the TCP had ignored its earlier directive to consider the application on merits.