The newly elected Congress MLA from Panaji, Atanasio Monserrate, will now face trial in the 2016 rape case where he was accused of ‘buying a minor girl’ for Rs 50 lakh after an additional session court in Panaji on Monday rejected MLA’s plea to drop the charges against him.
Finding credibility in the charge-sheet filed by the investigating officer, Additional District and Sessions judge, Sherin Paul, fixed June 12 for the formal framing of charges.
Atanasio ‘Babush’ 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.
Monserrate will now have to undergo trial under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) for rape and wrongful restraint.
Expressing his displeasure at the verdict, the Congress MLA said “We are going to face trial here. We will go to the HC to tell them to expedite the matter. I want to tell them basically to finish it. Even it if goes on a daily basis I want to finish it. This order was on expected lines as my lawyers had first only told me,” he said.
Monserrate who recently won the Panaji seat during Goa bypolls has a history of changing parties. He started his political career with the United Goan Democratic Party (UGDP) and became MLA. Later, he joined the BJP in 2004 only to return to the UGDP in 2007. A few years later, he was in the Congress but was sacked for anti-party activities in 2015. He then joined the Goa Forward (GF) and was an office-bearer until he re-joined the Congress in April 2019.
In the case which goes back to 2016, the victim, then a minor, had accused Monserrate of buying her for Rs 50 lakh, drugging her and sexually assaulting her. He had spent around eight days in jail after he surrendered before the police. He was granted bail eight days later after his lawyers successfully argued that the charges against him lacked credibility. Monserrate has also been booked for extortion in the past.
Monserrate had then accused the ruling government of deliberately targeting him ahead of the 2017 Goa Assembly elections and had denied all the charges against him.
Moreover, Goa police had on May 31 booked Atanasio Monserrate along with two others for allegedly molesting a woman during an anti-encroachment drive outside a casino in the city.
The victim in her complaint against Monserrate, mayor Uday Madkaikar and former mayor Yatin Parekh alleged that the MLA and his associates abused her, pushed her and made vulgar gestures. An FIR had been filed under sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 354 (outraging modesty), 504 (breach of the peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code. The MLA, however, denied the allegations and filed for anticipatory bail on June 1.