An editor of a popular multi-edition Marathi newspaper has been involved in using threats and complainants to scuttle legal proceedings in a case involving misappropriation of public funds, a Goa court has said.
The startling observations were made by special sessions judge Nutan Sardessai in her order allowing complainants Kashinath Shetye and Ketan Govekar, incidentally both Right to Information (RTI) activists, to intervene in the anticipatory bail case of an ex-committee member of an educational trust that has been accused of misappropriating Rs 21 lakh of public funds.
“The powerful and politically connected persons of the School Trust/Society and the editor of Lokmat, Raju Nayak, either flexed their muscle to instil fear in their minds or otherwise tried to entice or lure them with promises of rewards in the event they comply in order to scuttle the legal proceedings,” Sardessai said in her order, which has come as a shocker for the media fraternity here.
“The problem of misappropriation of public funds in Goa is on the rise, a threat of immeasurable gravity, threatening the future of the Government and the society and much more so when an educational establishment, teachers and officials of the police of the State are inextricably entangled in corruption to protect them and to facilitate their functioning. The interveners are receiving threats periodically on phone to withdraw the application. Even the editor of Lokmat, Raju Nayak is involved,” Sardessai further said.
The order also states that two complainants had not only been threatened and induced, but also harassed, put “under private surveillance” and were “constantly followed”.
“The authorities concerned for extraneous reasons and/or for illegal benefit/gratification from the proceeds are turning a blind eye to the illegalities and also to their complaint. The police are pressurized into inaction which is apparent from their refusal to act since 2009 and hesitating to arrest powerful politicians who are in fact the primary accused in the matter,” the court further said.
Sawant, an ex-committee member of the trust running the Shri Durga English School of Pernem, 30 kms from here, had filed for anticipatory bail after a criminal complaint accused trust officials of misappropriating Rs 21 lakh from a Rs 36 lakh Government loan.
Lokmat is a popular Marathi daily which runs several editions in Maharashtra, including one in Goa.
When asked for comment on the court order, Lokmat’s group editor Dinkar Raikar did not respond.
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