Lokayukta recommends FIR against Parsekar, two others in illegal second renewals’ case

Panjim: In a major direction, Goa Lokayukat has recommended filing a First Information Reports (FIR) against former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and two others in the illegal second renewals granted to 88 iron ore mining leases in the State, which were quashed and set aside by the Supreme Court.

Goa Lokayukat P K Misra has recommended that Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) should file a FIR against Parsekar, the then State Mines Minister, former Mines Secretary Pawan Kuman Sain and ex-Mines Director Prasanna Acharya for criminal conspiracy.

In an order passed on January 20, Lokayukat has recommended to the government that after filing of the FIR, the investigation shall be entrusted to an independent agency like CBI. Further, it has declared that both Sain and Acharya are ‘unfit’ to hold the offices currently held by them.

The order was passed in a complaint filed by Goa Foundation (GF) in March 2018 against the trio, demanding an investigation into the illegal second renewal of 88 leases claiming that the renewal led to a loss of Rs 1,44,000 crore to the State exchequer.

GF had pleaded before the Lokayukta to investigate the circumstances that led to the en masse second renewal of 88 mining leases in the State to various private leaseholders, including one multinational corporation, from the period November 1, 2014 to January 12, 2015, through flagrant abuse of power and conspiracy by the persons listed as respondents in the complaint.

“Only an ostrich with its head deeply buried in the pristine sand of Arabian Sea can say that the overnight renewals affected at a speed faster than that of the fastest jaguar or cheetah, as was done during January 5 to January 12, 2015 and particularly on January 12, 2015 itself, had been routinely done in course of official transactions without any iota of any malafide intention,” the order stated.

“This institution is satisfied that the public functionaries concerned have committed criminal offence punishable under Section 13 (1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 before its amendment effected on July 26 2018 as well as offence of criminal conspiracy as defined in Section 120-A of the Indian Penal Code punishable under 120-B of Indian Penal Code and they should be prosecuted in the court of law for such offences,” the order said.

“Appropriate FIR should be registered by the ACB of the State government against the three. However, further investigation shall be made in accordance with law by an independent agency and the State government is directed to entrust investigation to CBI,” Misra said.

“This institution is satisfied that the complaint involving allegation against the three respondents has been substantiated and keeping in view the magnitude and seriousness in the dereliction of duty, a declaration as contemplated under Section 16A (1) is required to be made that the public functionaries concerned should not continue to hold office held by them,” the order stated.

“It is hereby directed that the respondents (Sain and Acharya) are unfit to continue to hold office held by them. However, no such declaration is necessary in respect of respondent (Parsekar) as he has ceased to be a Minister/Chief Minister at present,” it added.

In its 300-page complaint, GF has said that the three were involved in grant of mining leases in violation of Supreme Court judgment and the provisions of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act (MMDR). The complaint against the trio is been filed under Section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

GF director Claude Alvares said that he will pursue the matter with the government to ensure that FIR is filed at the earliest. [H]