We own the bar: Goan family claims amid Irani row
A fresh element has surfaced in the controversy that linked Union Minister Smriti Irani's daughter to the alleged unlawful operation of a Goa restaurant and bar. A local family on Friday claimed ownership of the facility and informed the state's Excise Commissioner that they solely own the enterprise. The issue was highlighted by the Congress party a few days ago and slammed Irani.
Why does this story matter?
Union minister, a senior leader in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and a critic of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Irani defeated him in the latter's stronghold of Amethi in 2019 general election. She has attacked the Congress for alleged corruption in the National Herald case, currently under investigation by government agencies. Therefore, the current complaint over acquiring an illegal license questions her credibility.
What exactly did the Goan family say?
According to their response to Excise Commissioner Narayan M Gad's show cause notice, the owners Merlyn Anthony D'Gama and her son Dean D'Gama declared that the property is solely their company and includes "no other person or persons." They further claimed that no regulations had been broken under any provisions of the Goa Excise Duty Act and Rules, 1964.
What does the complaint say?
The complaint made by Goa-based lawyer Aires Rodrigues claimed that the eatery's liquor license was renewed in June under the name of deceased person Anthony D'Gama. His death certificate, issued by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, was attached to the complaint. Gad heard the two parties for almost an hour on Friday, seven days beyond the deadline.
Mother-son duo hold the Power of Attorney of the restaurant
As per The Indian Express, the mother-son duo termed the allegations "totally baseless and unsubstantiated" in the written reply as Anthony D'Gama was Merlyn's husband. It said the duo holds the Power of Attorney on behalf of the family since August 20, 2021, had applied for the renewal of the liquor license, which was in the name of Anthony, and submitted his death certificate.
Confusion emerged due to 'inadvertant' mistake: Owners
The response said that Dean signed applications for the excise license and renewal while his father was still living. Dean said it was by "sheer inadvertence" and "sheer oversight and bona fide omission" that for the last renewal after the death of his father, "the term 'late' remained to be pre-fixed which is a bona fide mistake and is neither deliberate nor willful,"
Congress claims Irani's daughter obtained fraudulent license
Congress has been demanding Irani's resignation over her daughter allegedly running an illegal bar in Goa with a falsely procured license. The party claimed that the license had been acquired in the name of a deceased person. In Panaji, Congress's state chief showed a video of her daughter being interviewed as a "young entrepreneur" and the restaurant, Silly Souls, being introduced as "her restaurant."
How did the issue come to fore?
The Silly Souls cafe made headlines after reports of the team acquiring a liquor license under the name of a deceased man surfaced. After an RTI-based complaint by lawyer Rodrigues, Goa's excise commissioner reportedly issued a show-cause notice on Thursday. It was found that one Anthony D'Gama applied for the license renewal on June 22, 2022, despite having passed away in May 2021.