Comunidades have reason to celebrate again as the High Court of Bombay at Goa in a judgment on Thursday, September 28, set aside the decision of the administrator and the Government of Goa to reduce the charges payable by Steve D’Souza and Spacebound Web Labs Pvt Ltd -- organisers of Sunburn -- and to pay the Comunidade of Anjuna the balance amount of Rs 12,67,120 and Rs 36,95,736, respectively, within eight weeks from today.
This is the second positive judgment for the Comunidade -- the previous was against ISKCON -- by advocate Nigel Costa Frias.
High Court Judges Bharat Desphande and Mahesh Sonak in their order on Writ Petition No 347 of 2023 by Fenton de Souza and Trevor Mascarenhas, gaunkars of the Comunidade of Anjuna, directed that unless Steve D’Souza and Sunburn pay this amount, their applications for allotment of Comunidade lands must not be considered by the Comunidades or the State Government.
It may be noted here that the Anjuna Comunidade in its General Body Meeting last year had tabulated charges to be paid for organizing Rider Mania and Sunburn on its land.
However, the same was reduced by the administrator of North Goa Comunidade forcing both the gaunkars to approach the High Court for redressal of their grievance.
“This is a victory for gaunkars all over Goa. We need people to understand that they cannot stamp over Comunidades and get away with it. Sometimes, money is not everything especially when we have an upright judiciary,” stated a jubilant Fenton de Souza.
“God is there and today he has spoken through the court. This victory is for all gaunkars in Goa to know that thieves cannot be on the run forever. They can get caught,” stated a beaming Trevor Mascarenhas who has been trying to get Sunburn to respect the laws of the Comunidade for the last many years.
“We expect the parties involved to understand that they did wrong,” stated Fenton.
“The High Court judgment has vindicated the rights of the Comunidade of Anjuna,” advocate Nigel Costa Frias told GT Digital. “I am just doing my work in putting the truth in its right perspective,” added Nigel when asked to comment on his two successive wins for Comunidades.
The thirty-nine-page judgment dwells on certain key aspects that dispel fears that the Code of Comunidade can be ignored or that the General Body has no relevance:
A: “The Provision of Article 5 of the Code of Comunidade shall be under the administrative tutelage of the State, cannot be interpreted to mean that the State Government, in the exercise of its power of tutelage or rather its responsibility of tutelage, can force the Comunidade to give up its property even temporarily for fees which are almost 50% to 70% lesser than the fees resolved to be levied by the general body of the comunidade.
B: “The Managing Committee cannot substitute the General Body and/or overrule its decision. The say of the Managing Committee is not the say of the Comunidade to bind the Comunidade unless supported by the minutes of the appropriate General Body Meeting.”
C: “The Comunidades are the absolute owners of the land…….Thus the Court found that the activities of the Comunidade are regulated by the Code and it is the duty of the State to ensure that the provisions of the Code which have been enacted for the specific purpose are strictly followed.”