Even as Principal Sessions Judge U V Bakre issued an order suspending Additional Sessions Judge Desmond D’Costa, the legal fraternity has come out strongly against this move and demanded the immediate reinstatement.
Although the reasons for placing him under suspension were not revealed, it is learnt that this is due to the judgement delivered by Desmond D’Costa in the Mahanand Naik case where he pronounced the judgement on a case referred to him from the office of the Sessions Judge who was on leave.
The contention is that the Additional Sessions Judge cannot pronounce a judgement in a case being heard by the Sessions Judge.
However, the legal fraternity has cried foul over this matter and South Goa Advocates Association President Anacleto Viegas termed it the worst cut of all as the case was disposed off within 20 days which was a record in Goa particularly since the accused was in police custody.
“Is this the reward a judge deserves for disposing a criminal custody case expeditiously when quick disposal of cases is the need of the hour?” he asked.
He further implied that Judge Desmond who has an impeccable record for the nearly 20 years of his career as a presiding officer in the courts, is sought to be blamed for the inefficiency of the police who failed to prove their case which resulted in Mahanand getting acquitted.
“When the prosecution had closed its case for want of more witnesses, it was quite natural for the judge to pronounce the order,” he said wondering whether the judge should have waited for the presiding judge to return to pronounce the order and till then the accused would continue to languish in jail which is against the principle of Indian jurisprudence of “innocent until proven guilty”.
Besides, Mr. Viegas wondered why the State has not appealed against the said order. He in fact said the act of suspending Desmond was the “height of injustice” as neither was the judgement found to be faulty nor the trial vitiated and urged the High Court to immediately withdraw the suspension order.
He also hinted that the Association may take legal recourse against this action if it is not suspended immediately besides also planning demonstrations in Panjim and Margao.