Sessions judge suspension triggers protests in Goa



Panaji: Suspension of Additional Sessions court judge, Desmond D'Costa, who acquitted serial killer Mahanand Naik in a murder case for want of evidence, has sparked protests here with lawyers and social activists seeking 'justice' and are demanding his re-instatement.

While lawyers boycotted majority of the lower courts for three days, social activists have rallied behind D'Costa, resolving to fight against the 'injustice' meted out to him.

His suspension last week has triggered a lot of discontent among people and the legal fraternity.

South Goa Bar Association's President Anacleto Viegas claimed D'Costa's suspension came after senior Principle Sessions Judge, U V Bakre, gave a report complaining against him to the High Court.

Following this, lawyers from South Goa decided to boycott court of Judge Bakre to express solidarity with D'Costa, an erstwhile students' leader and a judge with 20 years of experience.

"We will continue boycotting his courts till D'Costa is re-instated," Viegas said.

Social activists joined hands with lawyers on Monday to protest the suspension of D'Costa and a rally was held here for seeking 'justice to a Justice'.

"This is a not challenge for judiciary but in fact, its a reaction of outrage about what happened to Desmond," Oscar Rebello, renowned social activist, told a gathering on Monday.

The public movement has also rendered its support to Industrial Tribunal Judge Anuja Prabhudesai, who was suspended in a similar fashion like D'Costa.

"This battle is not about judges, its about us because for us these are our icons for truthful judiciary. If they fall, we fall," Rebello said.

D'Costa's suspension came after he disposed off one among the 16 murder cases against serial killer Mahanand Naik.

As per the report by Principle District and Sessions judge, Utkarsh Bakre, copy of which is available with the PTI, D'Costa was instructed not to hurriedly dispose off any matters.

Bakre had proceeded on 15 days leave last year when D'Costa was handling his cases including that of Naik.

"Though the case was a custody matter, however, it could not be said to be such an urgent matter to be disposed off in the manner, as is done by D'Costa," Bakre in his report dated April 12, 2010, to the Registrar General of Bombay High Court, has said.

Bakre says that accused Mahanand Naik was in judicial custody in many murder cases and hence disposal of sessions case would not have resulted into his liberty from custody.

Judge D'Costa in his reply to the court said that his anxiety was to do justice. "As I found no material in the evidence on record, I pronounced the judgement on the same day," he added.

PTI