The Porvorim police must have been elated when a person came forward to spill the beans on a theft at Irmitwado, Provorim. It seemed like they had an open and shut case. That was until it all unravelled in the JMFC Court, Mapusa.
The owner of the house left for Dubai on September 10, 2014. On her return on December 9, the same year, she found that her house had been robbed.
Practically everything was taken. Gold, 45 dress materials, glasses and decanters of all types, Pyrex dishes, non-stick vessels, ready-made dresses, blouses, undergarments, bedsheets, towels, forks and spoons, tea sets, travelling bags, socks, stockings, shoes, sandals, inverter and a battery.
Even the masalas, chocolates and dry fruits were not spared.
Imagine her surprise when on December 18 a person (not named in the court order but known as prosecution witness 5 - PW5) came to her house and told her he knew the people who had committed the theft.
That is how the case came to be registered against Soni Chawan and Sharda Chawan.
During the course of the investigation, the police raided the house of a person dealing in antique furniture and crockery and seized some articles. He told them that he had purchased the same from one Rupesh Rankle, who was made the third accused in the case.
From here on it appeared like smooth sailing for the prosecution and police.
Since the entire case rested on the statement of PW5, it was important that it should be rock solid. But it was far from it.
During the cross-examination, PW5 revealed that Soni was living with him for the last 15 years and there was a falling-out owing to a complaint filed by Soni against him. This led the judge to comment, “that PW5 had a motive to depose against the accused due to their strained relations and as such his deposition does not inspire much confidence”.
It also came on record that the statement made by PW5 was in writing and signed by him, but the one produced in court was typed and not signed.
Lastly it was not proved that the accused broke into the house and that stolen property was not recovered from them.
All these cumulative lapses resulted in the judge acquitting the first two accused on August 6 by giving them the benefit of doubt.
The third accused, Rupesh, who was charged with purchasing stolen property, was also acquitted as there was no evidence to show that he sold the property to the antique dealer or that he received it from Soni and Sharda.