This Article is From Aug 01, 2015

Slapping a Government Servant a Minor Offence: Goa Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza

File picture of GOa Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza.

Panaji: Goa's Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza has defended his government's controversial decision to seek a pardon for former cabinet colleague Francisco Xavier Pacheco, who is presently in jail for assaulting a government official. Mr D'Souza justified his government's action, saying slapping a government official is a "minor offence".

"The cabinet has approved the release of Mickky (an alias for Pacheco). It is a pardon. According to the list of offences in the IPC it is a minor offence," D'Souza said.

He also defended his government's support for a pardon for Pacheco, saying the law has to be more reformative than punitive.

On Thursday, the Goa cabinet had unanimously recommended that Governor Mridula Sinha pardon Pacheco. The Governor had forwarded a mercy petition from the former minister to the cabinet.

Pacheco has served two months of his six-month sentence. However, during this period, he has sought privileges given to MLAs, and took parole to attend the Assembly, submitting over a 100 questions in 'public interest' as a 'people's representative'. The application is still pending.

The move has been roundly criticised by activists and political opponents. Activist Aires Rodrigues has written to the Governor, urging her to reject the plea as Pacheco had other criminal cases against him.

"This is a mockery of Justice. The government has recommended he be pardoned but has not told the Governor of the many criminal proceedings against him. He is a repeat offender of crime," Mr Rodrigues said.

Pacheco, leader of BJP ally Goa Vikas Party, is accused of abetting the suicide of his girlfriend. He had been untraceable for two months, after the Supreme Court confirmed his sentence in March. He surrendered on June 1.