SC dismisses Pacheco`s bail plea, says could tamper evidence

Last Updated: Thursday, July 1, 2010 - 22:32

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today dismissed
absconding ex-Goa Tourism Minister Francisco Mickey Pacheco`s
anticipatory bail plea in the case of death of his alleged
girl-friend Nadia Torrado, observing he could tamper with the
investigation owing to his "political clout."

Pacheco is the prime accused in the case registered
following the death of 28-year-old Nadia in a Chennai hospital
on May 30 after she allegedly consuming poison.

A Bench of Justices R M Lodha and A K Patnaik however
stayed the arrest of Pacheco`s aide and co-accused Lyndon
Monteiro until three weeks and directed the State police to
file its response to his anticipatory bail plea.

Police have charged 46-year-old Pacheco with culpable
homicide while Monteiro has been accused of destroying
evidence.

"We are of the view that you have political clout and
can tamper with the investigation. It would have been
different if you had appeared before the Investigating Officer
on 5th (June)," the Bench said denying Pacheco any relief while
also pointing out that he was evading the sleuths for
interrogation.

Goa Police welcomed the Supreme Court`s decision and
said it was favourable for investigation into Nadia`s death.

"The order is good for investigation. Now let`s see
whether he wants to remain absconding or surrender before
police," state police spokesman Atmaram Deshpande said
in Panaji.

The Sessions Court and the Goa Bench of the Bombay
High Court High Court had earlier dismissed their anticipatory
bail. Both the accused are since then evading arrest.

Though senior counsel U U Lalit tried to establish
Pacheco`s innocence, the bench pointed out that the post-mortem
report and conduct of the accused contradicted the claim.

"The post-mortem reports indicates that there are are
over 14 injuries. There are injuries on the arms, legs and
other parts. There are contusions in the body. Who will
explain it?, the Bench asked disagreeing with the counsel`s
plea that the former Minister had no role in the death of
Nadia and hence entitled to the anticipatory bail.

"Look there are three reasons. Your conduct. You are
an influential person. At that time you were holding the
position of a minister. More so the learned Sessions Judge and
the High Court observed that you have considerable clout and
there are chances of tampering with the evidence.

The apex court pointed out that the former Minister
had taken Nadia to different places in the country for
treatment against medical advice after she reportedly consumed
poison at Goa.

"You took her to Chennai against medical advice. You
took her from Goa to Thane, from Thane to Chennai. You have
been with her all along. Certain things like her cellphone,
laptops have to the located they are vital clues for the
investigation officer to collect," the Bench observed.

The counsel admitted that there did exist a
relationship between Pacheco and Nadia for whose medical
expenses he had spent Rs 40 lakh rpt 40 lakh.

"On demure I accept some relationship. There was some
relationship my lord," the counsel told the court.
The counsel`s claim that contusions in the body was due
to the pumping of the chest by doctors to revive her after
she suffered a cardiac arrest failed to convince the court.

"There are 14 injuries on the body including the arms
and legs. How can it be due to pumping of the chest," the
bench queried, while rejecting the bail plea.

However, the apex court stayed the arrest of Pacheco`s
close aide Lyndon Monteiro for three weeks with certain
conditions.

The Bench said Monteiro should cooperate with the
investigation and appear before the investigating officer as
and when required.

Further it directed that he shall not move out of Goa
and if necessary surrender his passport to the authorities.

Earlier, the Bombay High Court, while rejecting Pacheco`s
bail plea, said the offence was of serious nature and
custodial interrogation was required in the case.

Monteiro`s bail plea was rejected on the ground that his
counsel did not bring on record the fact that he had withdrawn
his anticipatory bail plea from the High Court on an earlier
occasion after he was asked to remain present in person.

The Sessions Court in Margao had earlier rejected the
anticipatory bail pleas of Pacheco and Monteiro.

Crime branch, which had interrogated Pacheco on June 4,
said they wanted custodial interrogation of the accused as
they were yet to recover two mobiles and a laptop belonging to
Nadia.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, July 1, 2010 - 22:32

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