By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar
An ailing grandmother, three trauma-prone minor children, concern for constituents and hypertension are some of the grounds which could have “convinced” the BJP-led Goa government to pardon convicted legislator Francisco Pacheco.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government in an unprecedented and unanimous decision on Wednesday resolved to grant pardon to Pacheco, a former archives and archaeology minister, who is currently serving a six-month sentence in an assault case.
The cabinet decision now awaits the assent of Goa Governor Mridula Sinha, under section 161 of the Constitution, which grants her the power to pardon suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases.
The cabinet note in possession of IANS in which Chief Secretary R.K. Srivastava summarises the list of grounds mentioned by Pacheco in his petition to the cabinet, one of which lists an ailing grandmother.
“That he has an aged mother who is more than 89 years of age and is having multiple health complications and has undergone a number of surgeries in the recent past and she requires constant care and aid. He being the only made adult member in the house and his long absence has caused undue hardships to his mother whose health has stated deteriorating,” the note said.
Another reason listed by Pacheco for his pardon is that he has had a conviction-free record in the past and therefore he “may be allowed to perform his public duties of his constituency”.
While Pacheco may not have been convicted earlier, but the variety of crimes Pacheco has been accused committing in the past, is rich in diversity.
Pacheco, a legislator from Nuvem assembly constituency, is currently being tried for a wide range of criminal cases which include culpable homicide, bigamy, assault and extortion.
Pacheco is also being probed for illegal trafficking and money laundering by the US government’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (BDS) and was questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation in this regard in 2010.
Pacheco, who used to regularly alternate between ultra posh bikes like the Harley Davidson and a luxury SUVs like Hummer as his preferred rides to the Goa legislative assembly, has also justified his need for pardon because “he is a patient of hypertension and high blood pressure and requires frequent medical supervision and is on medication for the past three years”.
The legislator has also used the mental health of his children to justify his need for pardon.
The note said Pacheco “has three young children aged about 11 years, 9 years and six years studying in school and his family members are disturbed, distressed and pained because of the impugned conviction and incarceration which has entailed untold hardships to them.
“Their reputation in society and upbringing in at stake being children of vulnerable age and they are going through traumatic kind of situation.”
Pacheco, whose party is part of the ruling BJP-led coalition government in Goa, was jailed on June 1 after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction in the 2006 case, in which Pacheco was accused of assaulting a government employee.
A Catholic, Pacheco and his Goa Vikas party is of strategic importance to the BJP, in order to attract the minority vote, especially in the Catholic-dominated constituencies of South Goa.
Justifying the cabinet’s resolution to seek pardon for Pacheco, Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza said assaulting a government servant was a “minor offence” and that the pardon as in sync with the government’s healthy disposition towards prison reform.
“The cabinet has approved the release of Mickky (an alias for Pacheco). It is a pardon no. According to the list of offences in the IPC (Indian Penal Code) it is a minor offence,” D’Souza said.
“We are in an era of reformation. Our jurisprudence says we have to reform people rather than (act) punitive. We have to educate them. Our system cannot be punitive in nature,” D’Souza said. (IANS)