Other States

Hearing on complaint linked to controversial Goa restaurant begins

Representational image

Representational image | Photo Credit: LuminaStock

Goa Excise Commissioner, on Friday, began the hearing on the complaint filed by an activist-lawyer, who alleged that the licence to run a controversial upmarket restaurant in Assagao in North Goa, was obtained "illegally", and that it was renewed this year in the name of a person, who died in 2021.

During the hearing, excise commissioner Narayan Gad framed two issues to know whether the excise licence was obtained on the basis of false and inadequate documents, and whether there were any procedural irregularities on the part of the excise officials.

The outlet, 'Silly Souls Café and Bar', was at the centre of a raging controversy, after the Congress last week alleged that Union minister Smriti Irani's daughter was linked to the property, a charge rejected by her.

Activist and lawyer Aires Rodrigues had filed the complaint.

Mr. Gad heard Mr. Rodrigues and advocate Benny Nazareth, representing the family of the liquor licence-holder, Late Anthony DGama. The hearing for the day, which began at 11 a.m., concluded around 12.30 p.m.

Two issues framed

Talking to reporters after the hearing, Mr. Rodrigues said the excise commissioner framed two issues for determination - the first being whether the excise licence was obtained on the basis of false or inadequate documents and misrepresentation of facts. The second issue is whether there were procedural irregularities on the part of the excise officials, he said.

Directing the licence holder to file their response to these two issues, the excise commissioner adjourned the hearing till August 22.

While late Anthony DGama's son Mr. Dean was present for today's hearing, Advocate Rodrigues drew the attention of the Excise Commissioner that the name of the other existing son Mr. Dale, has been conveniently suppressed.

Norms violated

Mr. Rodrigues, in his complaint, said the excise rules in Goa allow a bar licence to be issued only to an existing restaurant, but norms were violated in the present case.

"The excise department, on 18th February 2021, in rank violation of law, issued a licence for retail sale of foreign liquor for consumption on the premises, along with another licence for retail sale of Indian Made Foreign Liquor and country liquor to the outlet without the required restaurant licence being in place," the complaint said.

He said the licence in the name of one Mr. Anthony Dgama was approved despite the Aadhaar card submitted by him showing he was a resident of Mumbai, and that the document was issued only on December 30, 2020, days before the application for an excise licence was filed.

Mr. Rodrigues, in his complaint, also pointed out in June, the local excise office at Mapusa, in clear contravention of law, "renewed the excise licence in the name of Mr. Dgama despite him having passed away last year on May 17, 2021, as per the death certificate issued by the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai".

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2022 3:25:13 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/hearing-on-complaint-linked-to-controversial-goa-restaurant-begins/article65699389.ece