After 23 years as state, 33 percent Goa legislators tainted

May 30th, 2009 - 1:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, May 30 (IANS) Ruling benches occupied by two ministers facing criminal charges, a deputy speaker charged for corruption, a minister who was earlier in the police list as a “bad character”, another minister booked for violating currency control laws and two legislators facing charges of graft and extortion ushered Goa into its 23rd anniversary as a state Saturday.
The 12-member cabinet of the ruling Congress-led alliance government has two ministers who have been charged last month - Tourism Minister Mickky Pacheco for assaulting government servants and Health Minister Vishwajeet Rane for criminal intimidation.

Atanasio Monserrate, education minister in the Digambar Kamat government, faces over half a dozen criminal charges. The most serious involves his leading an armed mob that attacked a police station in the heart of Panaji in February last year, committing arson, attacking police personnel and molesting policewomen.

Monserrate, who was charged with attempting to murder policemen, spent nearly a fortnight in police custody. The case is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

From the mid-1980s, he faces a charge of illegal felling of teak trees. Monserrate was listed as a goonda (bad character) in police records until 2000.

In August last year, Chief Minister Kamat forced then finance minister Dayanand Narvekar to resign from his cabinet after charges were framed against him for his involvement in a fake ticket scam for an one-day-international cricket match in 2001. Narvekar was also the president of the Goa Cricket Association.

Of the powerful Alemao brothers, while elder brother and Public Works Department Minister Churchill Alemao has been booked under the National Securities Act and Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities (Cofeposa) Act, younger sibling and Urban Development Minister Joaquim Alemao was listed as a goonda in police records until 2000.

Congress legislators in the 40-member assembly, Victoria Fernandes and Deputy Speaker Mauvin Godinho, are also on the list of those with criminal records. Fernandes was booked in the 1990s for abetting extortion, assault and her alleged involvement in two murders. Godinho was charged in 2002 for owning assets disproportionate to his declared sources of income and in 2001 in a power-rebate scam.

Kamat has maintained that considering the nature of charges filed by the police against his ministers, there was no need for either Vishwajeet Rane and Mickky Pacheco to resign.

“You have to basically see what cases are being filed against any person. The police sometimes have to file a charge sheet as per law. But, the charge sheet has to hold good in the court of law,” Kamat said.

Goa attained statehood May 30, 1987 during the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government.

Goa was governed by the central government as a union territory for 26 years, after Goa was liberated from the Portuguese forces by the Indian army in 1961.

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