The public meeting convened by Citizens Initiative against injustice to justice on Monday at Azad Maidan saw various speakers demanding transparency in judiciary and also an independent High Court for Goa citing various reasons for the latter. There was unanimous support to Judge Desmond D’Costa presently under suspension and Judge Anuja Prabhudesai who is facing a disciplinary proceeding after being exonerated by an enquiry commission constituted by the Bombay High Court.
Various advocates who addressed the meeting including senior advocate Savesh Lotlikar in one voice said that both the Judges had an impressive track record with no blemish whatsoever to their conduct as judicial officers. Their conduct in the court with the lawyers, litigants, defendants and witnesses has been impeccable, said the lawyers while asking why such good judges are targeted.
The action taken against Judge Desmond D’Costa and Judge Anuja Prabhudessai, send wrong signals to the judiciary, asserted the speakers and some even said that such actions compel honest judges to take the wrong path.
Judge Desmond D’Costa’s judgement acquitting Mahanand Naik or the murder charge was discussed in detail along with the chronology and the question as to why no appeal was filed if the judgement was wrong was repeated. Given the fact that a single confessional statement of the accused is being used in all the 16 cases against him, he is bound to be acquitted in all cases opined one lawyer.
However, he said following Desmond D’Costa’s suspension, there may be convictions now because the judges hearing those cases will be afraid that they too may face similar action, said Adv. Lotlikar.
Advocate Radharao Gracias in his inimitable style said the judges were honest only because the Contempt of Court Act prevented people from speaking about their dishonesty and accused the High Court of seeking to remove good judges from the courts in Goa.
“The Bombay High Court is destroying the lower judiciary by singling out honest judges and shooting them down,” said Adv. Lotlikar making a strong pitch for an independent High Court in Goa. The Bombay High Court has done yeomen service to Goa, but things have changed and the Bombay High Court has lost its relevance as far as the State is concerned.
He also pointed out that the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court was virtually an independent High Court for the State as it had Goan judges and further pointed out that Goans have become Chief Justices of other High Courts. Besides, he said there was a breakdown in communication between the Judges in Bombay and the judges in Goa.
South Goa Advocates Association President Anacleto Viegas supported the demand for an independent high court by pointing out that Goa has over 3,000 lawyers and urged Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar to move a resolution in the Assembly seeking an independent High Court for Goa.
Incidentally, Manohar Parrikar attended the meeting as a concerned citizen and was seated in the audience in a corner. Former Law Minister Kashinath Jalmi was also present seated in the front row.
Adv. Satish Sonak while welcoming the impressive crowd gathered put the meeting in its perspective by asserting that judiciary is not a monopoly of judges and lawyers but that the general citizens are also stakeholders.