The Supreme Court on Monday ordered former Goa Minister Francisco Pacheco, who has been evading arrest for over a month after being sentenced to jail for six months in an assault case, to surrender immediately.
A bench of Justices FMI Kalifulla and Shiva Kirti Singh reproached the sitting MLA from Nuvem for trying to fix the date and time of his surrender in accordance with his convenience. Pacheco was the Rural Development Minister in Goa’s BJP-led government until April 3.
“We are not going to give you any more time. You are like everybody else to us and you must surrender immediately. You are a convict. You have to surrender and serve your sentence. It is not done. We will not entertain your plea,” the bench told Pacheco’s lawyer.
His counsel claimed Pacheco had to pay the price of being a politician. “A politician is presumed to be guilty by everyone even without a trial. My being a politician has been my biggest disadvantage and nobody wants to listen to me. I am not even treated like an ordinary citizen,” he argued.
The bench, however, nixed this argument pointing out Pacheco has been on the run for more than a month now.
The bench told Pacheco’s counsel: “The court orders will have to be executed. You must surrender right away. Why should we give any extra time to you? Why do you want that special treatment? Surrender immediately. What applies to others will apply to you as well. We are not sitting here for anybody special. All are equal before the law.”
Pacheco’s counsel, who had initially wanted four weeks to surrender, finally pleaded for three-four days more but the court remained firm on its decision and rejected his request.
The same bench had on March 30 dismissed Pacheco’s appeal against the 2014 order of the Bombay High Court at Goa sentencing him to six months in jail. Pacheco has been convicted for assaulting an electricity department junior engineer in 2006.
Last month, a trial court had issued a warrant to search the Delhi residence of former Goa CM and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar after Rodrigues alleged that Pacheco was hiding there. The warrant was, however, stayed on an appeal by the state government, which argued that searching Parrikar’s residence would cause embarrassment to the country.