Goa government gets tough with Scarlett’s mother in neglect case

October 11th, 2008 - 4:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Oct 11 (IANS) The Goa government appears to be pushing the pedal hard in the case of neglect filed against deceased British teenager Scarlett Keeling’s mother, Fiona Mackeown. It has threatened to proceed ex parte against Fiona if she fails to appear before the state’s Women and Child Development Deparment (WCDD) Oct 15.

In a written notice sent to Fiona’s lawyer Vikram Verma, WCDD director Sanjiv Gadkar has said, “This is the last opportunity given to her, failing which the matter shall be proceeded ex-parte against her and will be decided as per law.”

Fiona is presently in Britain.

Two other notices had been issued by the WCDD earlier, asking Fiona to remain present for the hearing. “The matter was adjourned on two earlier occasions, Sep 18 and Oct 8,” Gadkar has stated.

The notices followed a complaint by a Goa based NGO Utt Goenkara charging Fiona with violating the Goa Children’s Act 2003.

The complaint claimed that Fiona had violated provisions of the act by leaving Scarlett behind in the unlawful custody of a stranger while she herself was vacationing in Gokarna, in Karnataka.

Speaking to IANS, Fiona’s lawyer Vikram Varma claimed that the notice was “unfair”. “He should give hearing to Fiona, who will be represented by her lawyer,” Verma said.

In his reply to the notice, Verma stated that Fiona was a British citizen and does not live in Goa. “I have asked the state government to serve notice either at her residence in UK or work through the British High Commissioner,” Verma said.

The Goa police, meanwhile, have already started an independent enquiry on similar lines, on the direction of the Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court.

Scarlett Eden Keeling’s body was found on Anjuna beach in February this year.

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