After hurriedly pushing through a controversial ordinance changing a 105-year-old law to save a five star resort from demolition in March, the Goa government is now tinkering with a cognisable section of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to save a cabinet minister charged with threatening to kill a lawyer.
A controversial note by Goa Advocate General Subodh Kantak now seeks that charges against hundreds of people booked under section 506 of the IPC since May 2004, including Health Minister Vishwajeet Rane, be dropped on technical grounds.
Section 506, which deals with various aspects of criminal intimidation, was made more stringent by the state government in 2004, making offences booked under the section non-bailable and cognisable to ensure that those arrested under it would be automatically placed in police custody.
The note dated June 30, of which IANS has a copy, was subsequently endorsed by Home Minister Ravi Naik and Chief Minister Digambar Kamat. It states that the 2004 notification rendering section 506 IPC cognisable was bad in law as it had had not been published in a government gazette, as mandated.
"Notification dated 11.5.2004 has not been published in the official gazette. The notification therefore cannot be acted upon or enforced or treated as law until and unless it is published in the official gazette. Section 506 (of the) IPC, therefore, cannot be considered as a cognisable and non bailable offence," Kantak has said in his note.
"All FIRs (first information reports) registered by the police under section 506 alone or under section 506 read with any other cognisable offence will be without authority of law... It is therefore necessary to instruct all assistant public prosecutors, public prosecutors to withdraw prosecutions filed under section 506 IPC alone or together with any other non cognisable offence," he added.
Rane was booked by the police after he allegedly threatened to kill a lawyer, Aires Rodrigues, over the phone in 2007. The police, who had earlier refused to file a FIR, were forced into action, following directions from a trial court.
In March this year, the state government had issued a controversial ordinance amending the Land Acquisition Act 1894 to legalise 54 illegally constructed rooms in the Cidade de Goa, a five star resort near Panaji, after the Supreme court had ordered demolition of these structures.