Sonali Phogat death case: SC stays partial razing of restaurant in Goa
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Uday Umesh Lalit passed the order on an urgent basis after the counsel for the restaurant owner claimed the demolition was already underway while he was arguing the case.
The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the demolition of a part of Goa’s Curlies restaurant and bar, ordered by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on September 6, citing a violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms. The restaurant is linked to the death case of former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and social media influencer Sonali Phogat.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Uday Umesh Lalit passed the order on an urgent basis after the counsel for the restaurant owner claimed the demolition was already underway while he was arguing the case. The Court issued notice to the Goa government and Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) and sought a response before the next date of hearing on September 16.
The bench, also comprising justices S Ravindra Bhat and PS Narasimha said, “There shall be a stay of demolition with respect to structures standing on Survey No.42/10 subject to the appellant not undertaking any commercial activity in or with respect to said structure.”
Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the restaurant’s co-owner Linet Nunes, showed documents to the Court to show that the structure in Survey No 42/10, which belonged to the petitioner, was in existence before 1991. He further stated that based on the submission recorded in the NGT order, only the structure on land covered by Survey No 42/10 belongs to it, and the petition does not concern any other structure.
Accordingly, the bench held, “If there be any unauthorized construction in lands other than Survey No.42/10, the demolition can certainly go on.”
Goa government was represented in Court by advocate Abhay Anil Anturkar who accepted the notice and agreed to respond by the next date.
The apex court earlier in the day stayed the demolition so the action was halted for a few hours, but the order was limited to only the part of the restaurant standing on a particular survey number, said a senior official of the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA). “After the SC order, we surveyed that particular part, and it is kept out of the demolition drive. The rest of the parts which violate Coastal Regulation Zone rules are being demolished,” the official said.
BJP leader Phogat had allegedly visited Curlies the night before her death on August 23. In a separate offence under the NDPS Act, the Goa Police arrested Edwin Nunes, the shack’s owner, after Methamphetamine, allegedly given to Phogat, was found in the bathroom of the shack. Nunes has been granted bail by a court in Mapusa.