JOSE MARIA MIRANDA, MARGAO
Panaji’s Judicial Magistrate Vijaylakshmi Shivolkar needs to be complimented and emulated by her other colleagues in the judiciary for her remarks in a matter of defamation filed by RTI activist Kashinath Shetye against MLA Nilesh Cabral, Speaker Dr Pramod Sawant, Chief Secretary Dharmendra Sharma and police inspector Vishwesh Karpe of Crime Branch. Shetye had been accused of stealing a Legislative Assembly question (LAQ). Cabral complained about it to the Speaker, who, in turn, sent the complaint to the Chief Secretary and the latter to the DGP. Coming down heavily on Karpe, the Magistrate lamented that the inspector did not know the basic ingredients of a “theft”. She felt that the police inspector acted in “revenge and vengeance”. The Magistrate allowed defamation proceedings to be framed against Karpe. Judge Shivolkar also commented that “this was a classic example of how the orders of political leaders and higher officers of the department are blindly followed by subordinate officers to cause hardship to the common men, who are at the mercy of the so-called officers.” She further said: “It pains me a lot to see the manner in which the police machinery in the state functions.” The Magistrate found it objectionable that the Chief Secretary should have sent the complaint to DGP, as the matter pertained to breach of privilege and secrecy. If the present government and the police have any sense of shame, they should learn a lesson from the caustic remarks and strictures passed by the Magistrate. They must forthwith follow the rules and avoid pleasing the bosses and being spineless before their higher ups and politicians. This government is known for indulging in harassment and vengeance to silence opponents and those who refuse to toe their line of thinking. For them, it is the best means to have their way and go ahead with their activities prejudicial to the state and its people. This needs to stop, if democracy has to function effectively.