A trial court on Monday ordered framing of charges against Atanasio Monserrate, newly elected Congress MLA from Panaji, in connection with a 2016 rape case involving a minor.
Finding merit in the charge-sheet filed by the investigating officer, Additional District and Sessions judge Sherin Paul ordered formal framing of charges on June 12.
Mr Monserrate was charge-sheeted last year under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 506 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act after being booked in 2016 for allegedly raping a minor after drugging her.
Speaking to reporters after the court order, Mr Monserrate expressed displeasure that the proceedings had dragged over the past three years. "The case has been hanging for several years now. I will press for the trial to be fast-tracked or held on a day-to-day basis," Mr Monserrate said.
The rape charges became a key part of the May 19 Panaji Assembly by-election campaign, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) highlighting Mr Monserrate's 'dubious' past.
Mr Monserrate, however, won the election defeating Sidharth Kuncalienkar of the BJP. The Panaji seat was earlier represented by former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and the BJP since 1994.
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