NCP leader wants Goa CM as witness in defamation case

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar have been dragged into a defamation suit filed by Sunburn music festival promoters against a local opposition politician.

Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar have been dragged into a defamation suit filed by Sunburn music festival promoters against a local opposition politician.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state vice president Trajano D'mello in his reply filed with the Bombay High Court on Tuesday sought that Parrikar be summoned as a defence witness in the defamation case.

D'Mello has also alleged that the defamation suit has been filed against him by Percept India, at the instance of Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar, against whom he has already filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in connection with a land-grabbing case.

"The Defendant No 1 (D'Mello) states that it is imperative that Manohar Parrikar, who is the chief minister, should be made a party to the present suit and in the alternative this Hon'ble Court should summon the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar as a witness in the present suit," D'Mello has said in his plea to the Bombay High Court on Tuesday.

Percept India had accused D'Mello of making false accusations to the effect that bribes had been paid to the tourism minister last year to organise Sunburn, one of the top electronic dance music festivals in India held annually in Goa.

A defamation notice has also been issued to a local English daily for publishing the news story by Percept India.

In response, D'Mello has claimed that he was only raising questions about alleged graft in the granting of permissions for the festival by the tourism ministry and has attached a copy of the chief minister's official file noting to a Goa government principal secretary as evidence to suggest that not all was well with Goa's music festival scene.

"Sunburn has been a big headache due to complaints of drugs/smoking/traffic jam and allegations of kickbacks, forced to give free tickets. Unless these issues are sorted out all such festivals need a re-look. May discuss for clarity," says Parrikar's official noting, attached as evidence by D'Mello along with his reply to the defamation notice.

"I say that the file notings show that the chief minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar, has stated himself that there have been allegations of kickbacks regarding the Sunburn festival and that the chief minister was himself seized of the said issue of kickbacks being paid by Sunburn festival," D'Mello has said, while making his case for summoning Parrikar as a defence witness.

D'Mello has also alleged that the defamation suit was filed against him "at the behest" of Goa's Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar in order to "muzzle and silence" him.

D'Mello has claimed in his reply that the defamation case had followed a PIL filed by him with the Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court against the tourism minister and his brother in a landgrab case.