Social activist Aires Rodrigues on Monday during a hearing before Goa excise commissioner produced a lease agreement signed between the owners of a controversial restaurant in North Goa and a company allegedly linked to Union minister Smriti Irani’s family.
However, a lawyer of the family of late Anthony DGama, who owned the ‘Silly Soul Café and Bar’ at Assagao in North Goa, later told reporters that the “agreement for lease never culminated into a lease deed, therefore no rights were created to the parties under this”.
Irani had filed a civil defamation suit against three Congress leaders for linking her daughter’s name to the restaurant.
The Delhi High Court had observed that Irani and her daughter are neither owners of the restaurant in Goa nor have they ever applied for the licence for food and beverages at the eatery, as alleged.
Rodrigues had filed a complaint on June 29, alleging that the excise office in Mapusa illegally renewed the restaurant’s excise licence in the name of a deceased person- Anthony DGama.
During the hearing before Excise Commissioner Narayan Gad on Monday, Rodrigues claimed the property under survey number 236/22 of Assagao village, where Silly Souls Bar and Café was stated to be located, was leased to Eightall Food and Beverages LLP by DGama through his son with effect from January 1, 2021 for a period of 10 years at a monthly rent of Rs 50,000.
Eightall Food and Beverages LLP is allegedly linked Irani’s family.
Rodrigues placed the agreement before the investigating authority through an affidavit.
After the hearing before the excise commissioner, advocate Benedict Nazareth, representing the DGama family, said the lease agreement never culminated into a lease deed.
“There is a distinction between agreement of lease and lease deed. The agreement of lease says the parties would enter into a lease deed, if they wish to under the Transfer Of Property Act,” he said.
“Every lease has to be by a registered document. This agreement for lease never culminated into a lease deed, therefore no rights were created to the parties under this,” Nazareth added.
He also said no arguments were made before the investigating authority on Monday as the matter was fixed for the complainant (Rodrigues) to file his reply.
Rodrigues in his reply before the excise commissioner said Goans domiciled in Mumbai are not governed by the Portuguese Civil Code, 1867.
“It is an undisputed fact that the respondent was domiciled in Mumbai by his own admission,” he said.
Rodrigues was responding to the claim of the DGamas that the excise licence was inherited by the wife of Anthony DGama after his death, as per the Portuguese Civil Code.
He also mentioned in the reply that excise licence for the sale of liquor is not an asset but just a permission to do something, and (it) lapses on the death of the licensee and is not transferable.
“The excise licence is not a vintage to be granted under the erstwhile Portuguese law. It is a fundamental and elementary law that the excise licence has been granted under the Goa Excise Duty Act, 1964,” the activist said in the reply.
When the licence holder has died, the heir or successor is duty bound to apply to the excise officer and have the licence transferred in his or her name, he added.
Rodrigues alleged that the respondents (DGama family) and their agents, taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic and the then prevailing lockdown, managed to obtain the excise licence by circumventing the law.
The activist claimed that due to the Right to Information Act, all those alleged illegalities have come to light.
Nazareth said the excise commissioner has posted the matter for final arguments on October 13.