A Portuguese era law, which transfers the property ownership rights of a man to his wife after his death, has been cited in defence by the owners of a restaurant in Assagao village in North Goa, which the Congress claimed was linked to Union Minister Smriti Irani's daughter.
An activist-lawyer had filed a complaint, in which he alleged that the licence to run the upmarket restaurant — 'Silly Souls Café and Bar' — was obtained "illegally" and that it was renewed this year in the name of a person who died in 2021.
The Congress had last week alleged that Ms. Irani's daughter was linked to the property, a charge rejected by the Minister.
During the first hearing in the case conducted by State Excise Commissioner Narayan Gad on July 29, the family members of Anthony DGama, in whose name the licence for the restaurant was issued, told the authorities that it is entirely their business and no other person is involved in it.
Talking to reporters after the hearing, advocate Benny Nazareth, who represents the DGama family, said the Portuguese Civil Code mandates that when a spouse dies, his or her powers are transferred to the partner.
He said that the application for renewal of the licence was done my the family members after the death of Anthony. The Portuguese Civil Code is still in force in Goa.
Social activist and lawyer Aires Rodrigues, who is the complainant in the case, had pointed out to the Excise Commissioner that the renewal of licence was sought on behalf of Anthony, more than a year after his death. Anthony DGama's son Dean was present during the hearing of the case.
The lawyer representing the DGama family said that as per the Portuguese Civil Code, the ownership of the property is jointly done in the name of husband and wife.
"But when the husband dies, the power is automatically transferred to the spouse. So nothing actually needs to be done further," he added.
Meanwhile, Merlyn, the wife of late DGama, in her written submission dismissed all the allegations made by Mr. Rodrigues in his complaint before the Excise Commissioner.
On Friday, while posting the next hearing in the matter for August 22, the Excise Commissioner had framed two issues for determination, the first one being whether the excise licence was obtained on the basis of false and inadequate documents and through misrepresentation of facts, while the second one is whether there were any procedural irregularities on the part of the excise officials.