ABSOLVED: The court has ordered the dismissal of FIR No 52/2023 filed against Rev Dr Bolmax Fidelis Pereira at Vasco Police Station on August 4, 2023.
ABSOLVED: The court has ordered the dismissal of FIR No 52/2023 filed against Rev Dr Bolmax Fidelis Pereira at Vasco Police Station on August 4, 2023. Gomantak Times

Goans hail HC quashing of FIR against Bolmax

Priest says Goans will always respect each other and stay united, and hopes that outside forces will not create communal discord

It is pertinent to read this extract from the order of the High Court of Bombay at Goa, quashing the FIR filed against Fr Bolmax Pereira.

It reads: “There is an apocryphal tale associated with Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj: Once, a stone was thrown by an old woman at a tree to fetch mangoes accidentally hit Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, injuring him. After the old woman was apprehended and produced before Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, he immediately ordered her release and rewarded her with wealth that would support her for the rest of her life."

ABSOLVED: The court has ordered the dismissal of FIR No 52/2023 filed against Rev Dr Bolmax Fidelis Pereira at Vasco Police Station on August 4, 2023.
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“The great king reasoned as follows: ‘If a tree which is not a highly elevated living entity can be so tolerant and merciful to give sweet mangoes even when hit by anyone, being a king, should I not be more merciful and tolerant than the tree?’

“Thus for all the above reasons, we quash the impugned FIR No 52/2023 registered on 04.08.2023 at Vasco Police station against the petitioner (Rev Dr Bolmax Fidelis Pereira).”

ABSOLVED: The court has ordered the dismissal of FIR No 52/2023 filed against Rev Dr Bolmax Fidelis Pereira at Vasco Police Station on August 4, 2023.
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And this is how people reacted to the order. “I was always with him but it had to come legally for the people to know,” said Isabella, a parishioner of Chicalim. “It was obvious from the beginning that the protests had communal overtones and it is sad that the Vasco police played into it,” she added.

“It was clear that the complainants were made to add a communal element to a sermon from a shepherd to his sheep. We are supposed to be an educated class but the twist given to the sermon and the manner that the authorities reacted, showed our class. I see deterioration but the judgment is changing my mind,” observed Celestino Antao, as he sipped coffee in Agassaim.

ABSOLVED: The court has ordered the dismissal of FIR No 52/2023 filed against Rev Dr Bolmax Fidelis Pereira at Vasco Police Station on August 4, 2023.
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Bolmax Pereira is liked by many and hated by some because he stands for the truth and it is his truth that hurts those who dislike him. As news of the quashing of the FIR spread, for many it is time to believe that the pain for speaking the truth is superficial.

“I accepted to defend Bolmax because I knew the case against him was filed with no ground. Section 295-A was included with no bearing. Right from the time bail was applied and after, we knew where we stood,” stated advocate Richard Almeida, whilst dispelling notions that it was a hair-scratching case.

ABSOLVED: The court has ordered the dismissal of FIR No 52/2023 filed against Rev Dr Bolmax Fidelis Pereira at Vasco Police Station on August 4, 2023.
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“All that the petitioner stated, and with which the respondent disagreed, was that Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is not a God, though he is a national hero,” reads part of the judgment.

“Expressing such a view point, and that too respectably does not attract the provisions of Section 295-A or Section 504 of the IPC, given the law that the alleged offending words must be judged from the standards of reasonable, strong minded, firm and courageous men and not those of weak and vacillating minds, not of those who scent danger in every holistic point of view,” mentions the order.

MAN OF FAITH: Fr Bolmax Pereira exudes confidence through his smile.
MAN OF FAITH: Fr Bolmax Pereira exudes confidence through his smile. Photo: Augusto Rodrigues

Bolmax didn’t seem to have won a battle after the High Court judgment but instead to have established a fact that, “not just me, everyone who knows the truth and especially when the truth is to promote peace and justice, this judgment will provide legal protection to be vocal,” he said.

“We Goans, Hindus, Muslims, Christians have always lived in perfect communal harmony and always will. Let not outside forces infiltrated to create communal discord amongst us ever succeed in their plans. Goans will always respect each other and stay united,” said Bolmax.

We Goans, Hindus, Muslims, Christians have always lived in perfect communal harmony and always will. Let not outside forces infiltrated to create communal discord amongst us ever succeed in their plans

Fr Bolmax Pereira

Salman Rushdie had somewhere in his book Shame written: “Silence is an ancient language of defeat.” The judgment should silence designers of communal hatred and give those celebrating peace a chance to better express themselves.

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