Goa should probe death of foreign tourists: HC

Panaji, Jul 7 (IANS): While directing the CBI to take over the murder probe of a 22-year-old Finnish tourist Felix Dahl from the state police, the Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court on Friday asked the state government to wake up to alarming issue of foreigners' deaths in the coastal state.

The Court in an order issued on Friday also said that the police probe into Dahl's death was "not indicative of fair and impartial".

"We are not commenting on the correctness of the cause in every case, but such occurrences themselves and the resultant situations are not conducive for the perception about the existence of the Rule of Law," Justices Prithviraj K. Chavan and N.M. Jamdar said in their order.

"We are of the opinion that the state of Goa should take a review of this situation on a priority basis. The state could consider setting up a Special Cell headed by a senior officer to deal with such investigations. The state may consider not to let such investigations remain in the hands of the local police alone. We trust that the state will take appropriate positive steps in this regard," the order said.

According to official statistics, 245 foreigners have died in Goa over the last 21 years.

The High Court order follows a petition by the deceased's Finland-based mother Minna Pirhonen, who had petitioned the Court to seek a CBI probe into her son's death in 2015 at a beach in Canacona sub district in South Goa. Police had dismissed the death as an unnatural death, while his mother believes that Felix was murdered.

"A Constitutional court cannot remain a mute spectator when an apparent faulty and prejudiced investigation is meandering towards a predetermined end. It is, therefore, necessary to transfer the investigation of this case to an outside and competent investigatory agency.

"CBI has been chosen by the High Courts in several cases. Considering the case from all angles, we are satisfied that it is necessary to transfer the investigation of this case to the CBI," the order said.

The order also said it was important to transfer the case to the CBI because of the backdrop of the series of deaths of foreign tourists as well as to ensure that the murder probe does not become a casualty at the hands of "myopic officers" of the local police station.

"Compounded with the backdrop of many deaths of foreign tourists, this case has become one such on whose outcome the perception of people regarding the administration of justice hinges. It is of paramount importance that the faith in the Rule of Law is sustained and is not allowed to become a casualty at the hands myopic officers of a local police station," the order said.