HC issues notice to government on complaint against Fiona

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Panaji, Sep 1 (UNI) The Goa Bench of Bombay High Court today issued a notice the state Government on a petition challenging order of the Children's Court refusing to ask police to investigate the role of Britisher Fiona Mackeown in the death of her minor daughter Scarlett Keeling.

Justice N A Britto served the notice when the issue came up for hearing as the petitioner UTT Goenkara spokesmen Advocate Aires Rodriguses reiteratred that Fiona was fully fully aware that her daughter was a minor and the law mandated that all children within the State of Goa be provided a safe environment wherein the parents were responsible to ensure that the child was not abused.

Mr Rodrigues had submitted that the conduct of Ms Fiona was in violation of Section 8 (1) (2) and Section 8 (12) of the Goa Children's Act 2003 and needed to be investigated in respect of her behaviour and her activities in Goa.

He stated the Children's Court, being conferred with powers of a Sessions Court, had magisterial powers to direct investigation into offences alleged under the Children's Act.

Mr Rodrigues, in his petition, prayed that the order of the Children's Court be set aside and that the authorities be directed to investigate the offences under the Children's Act against Ms Fiona for having abandoned her minor child with an unrelated adult male and to file their report before the Children's Court.

The President of the Children's Court Mr Desmond D'Costa on August 11, disallowed the complaint filed by Rodrigues on the ground that as per Section 20 of the Children's Act, cognizance of any offence under the Act could be taken only on a complaint filed by the child, her parents, guardians, close relatives, police or a competent authority under the Children's Act.

Advocate Rodrigues had, in his complaint, stated that Scarlett Keeling had come to India with her mother Fiona, who left the minor girl in the company of one 'Julio' with the intention that he would take care of the girl. However, the mother, along with some male companion and her other children, were away holidaying in Gokarn.

Challenging the order of the Children's Court rejecting his complaint, Mr Rodrigues submitted to the High Court that the lower court had totally misconstrued the nature and scope of his application, which merely sought orders for investigation into the offences committed by the mother under the Children's Act in relation to her child, and was not a compliant under section 20 of the Act.

He also told the High Court that the order of the Children's Court, rejecting his application solely on the ground he did not fall within the persons authorized to make complaints to the Children's Court, was entirely without jurisdiction.

The body of Keeling was found on Anjuna beach in North Goa on February 18 and the second post-mortem examination revealed she was drugged, raped and then murdered. A bartender and a drug peddlar had been arrested and chargesheeted in this connection and the case was subsequently taken over by the CBI, with Fiona suspecting the veracity of the Goa police.

A police inspector was dismissed from service and a doctor, who conducted the autopsy twice on Keeling's body, suspended. The body was later taken back to London while the police preserved some organs in Goa for corroborative evidence.

Fiona, who is yet to depose before the CBI as the main complainant, preferred to cancel her tour plan to Goa fearing some repercussions following the complaint against her in the Children's Court.

UNI BM OBB PK UCS1820

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