The decision to set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to further investigate the findings of the House Committee report on the nexus between police- politicians and the drug lobby has not come a day too soon. The report submitted on October 17, 2013, by a committee headed by MLA Mickky Pacheco has been virtually lying in a still born state for close to four years.
If the order notifying the formation of the SIT is issued before October 17 this year, the dormant report, not yet formally accepted by the House, will be brought back to life, and with it, the scrutiny will be back on politicians, officials and police officers named in the report.
The move also displays seriousness in going to the root of the drug trade in Goa, since it is the nexus which has allowed the big daddies of the drug trade to merrily function with a section of the unscrupulous rave, EDM and nightlife industry.
The report itself was not endorsed by all the members of the committee and thus lies in limbo. The committee members, then St Andre MLA, Vishnu Surya Wagh and Calangute MLA, Michael Lobo sent a dissenting note to the Speaker. While Wagh is ailing, and is not in position to contribute to the exercise any further, Lobo interestingly, has been spearheading his fight against drugs in his constituency and in the larger belt beyond his constituency. His stand on the House Committee report now will be awaited keenly.
Moreover the state police, during the BJP rule in the previous term decided not to look into the House Committee report, even though the state government had transferred the report to ACB for investigation in September, 2015.
The Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) did not conduct any investigation into the police-politician drug nexus on the ground that it did not fall within its scope. Then Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar in his written reply to a question tabled by Digambar Kamat, in the Assembly had also said the ACB had not conducted investigation in the case because it was beyond its scope.
What was lacking was the political will to resurrect the report since it was bound to open a can of worms and more. Some in the police force now as well as other officers who have served, plus of course high- profile politicians like Ravi Naik and his son, indicted severely in the report, will now have to submit themselves to investigation, since the report recommended that FIR’s be filed against them for facilitating or allowing drug operations to happen.
Some of the recommendations are direct. Here is one excerpt from the Committees recommendations: “The Committee is of the firm opinion that the DGP Kishen Kumar (IPS) of the Goa state is the kingpin in the State Police structure which protected and sheltered the drug mafia,” the report says.
The BJP government at the time of submission of the report, had reportedly said that there is “enormous amount of documentary evidence available to pin point the identity and criminal engagement of Roy Naik, son of Ravi Naik, the then Home minister of Goa in the drug trade”.
Since there recommendations and charges, name and implicate politicians and police officers, the ISIT will have the onerous and yet very difficult task of carrying out a full-fledged and fool proof investigation since it will be probing its very own, including senior officers.
It also remains to be seen if the SIT restricts itself to finding out if there is enough material to corroborate all the findings and recommendations of the House Committee report or goes beyond to fill the gaps, if any and carry out independent investigations.
Unlike in the past where the ACB could state that the House Committee report does not fall under its purview, a formal order from the Chief Minister, who is also the Home Minister, to set up SIT, will give the police authority, teeth and accountability to do justice to the first ever report in the country, of a House committee, to probe a police-politicians and drug lobby nexus.