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Law

Goa: Activist Challenges Excise Commissioner’s Order in Silly Souls Café Licence Case

The excise commissioner in his October order had allowed the licence of Silly Souls Café and Bar, which was renewed in a deceased man’s name, Anthony D’Gama, to be transferred to his widow.

New Delhi: An appeal was filed on Tuesday, November 22, before the Goa chief secretary against the October 20 order of the excise commissioner in connection with a licence issued to the Silly Souls Café and Bar, purportedly linked to Union minister Smriti Irani.

The excise commissioner in his October order had allowed the licence of Silly Souls Café and Bar, which was renewed in a deceased man’s name, Anthony D’Gama, to be transferred to his widow.

In the appeal, activist Aires Rodrigues claimed that a licence obtained ‘illegally and by fraud’ could not have been transferred in the name of D’Gama’s widow, Merlyn.

The controversy had emerged on July 21 when Rodrigues had alleged in his complaint filed with the excise commissioner that the licence was issued illegally in January 2021 in the name of D’Gama, and renewed in his name in June 2022, a year after his demise, Herald Goa had reported.

D’Gama passed away on May 17, 2021.

“If she had claimed that she was claiming to exercise such a right, nothing prevented her from applying for such renewal in her name by showing her husband has deceased,” the appeal said, as per the Indian Express.

It added that the “first fraud” was committed when an application for the renewal of an excise license was made in the name of a deceased man.

It further said that a “second fraud” was committed as the licence was sought on the basis of an invalid power of attorney. It added that a power of attorney, which was issued to the son by his father, is no longer valid once the person dies.

The appeal claimed that the October order did not consider these aspects while setting aside the complaint filed by Rodrigues in July.

The D’Gamas, on the other hand, had submitted before the commissioner that as per the Portuguese Civil Code, in case of death of either spouse, the survivor shall continue in possession and administration of the matrimonial estate, the daily reported.

The commissioner allowed Merlyn to transfer the liquor licences from her late husband’s name to her name “in principle” till proceedings before a civil court are completed.

In his complaint, Rodrigues had also alleged that the restaurant was purportedly linked to Union minister Smriti Irani.

Also read: Smriti Irani’s Family Restaurant in Goa in the Eye of a Storm

According to the Indian Express, the bar is allegedly run under a lease agreement between D’Gama, attorney of his father Anthony D’Gama, and Eightall Food and Beverages Limited Liability Partnership. Irani’s kin had allegedly invested in Eightall Food and Beverages in 2020-21.

The Wire had in August reported that the Silly Souls Cafe and Bar is likely either owned, or operated, by Eightall Food and Beverages, the limited liability partnership company that Zubin Irani, the minister’s husband, and other members of the Irani family, including the minister’s son, own a 75% stake in, via two family owned companies, Ugraya Mercantile and Ugraya Agro.

In its report, The Wire had established that the bar and restaurant operates from the very same address – House No. 452, Bouta Vaddo, Assagao – from which a company controlled by her husband and family, Eightall Food and Beverages, conducts its primary business.

It also said that the GST number allotted to the Irani family company at the Assagao address is identical to the GST number which the Silly Souls Cafe and Bar has filed with restaurant aggregator websites.