Supreme Court stays demolition of Goa restaurant linked to Sonali Phogat murder case
Curlies Restaurant on Anjuna Beach had allegedly violated coastal regulation zone norms.
The Supreme Court on Friday put a stay on the razing of Curlies Restaurant in Goa hours after civic authorities started the demolition process in the morning, reported Live Law.
The demolition started around 9 am as the restaurant had allegedly violated coastal regulation zone norms. The police say that the establishment was where associates of Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sonali Phogat slipped a drug into her drink last month. She was brought dead to a hospital a few hours later.
The restaurant, located on Anjuna Beach, was being razed as its management failed to get clearance from the National Green Tribunal in a 2016 case. The tribunal upheld the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority order to demolish the restaurant.
However, a bench of Chief Justice UU Lalit and Justices Ravindra Bhat and PS Narasimha put a stay on the demolition after the management told the court it would not conduct commercial operations till the next hearing scheduled for September 16.
The court clarified that the stay order is limited to structures falling within a particular survey area. It added that demolition of unauthorised construction in other areas that the restaurant owners claim do not belong to them can continue, according to Live Law.
After the demolition had bugan, the owners of the restaurant had appealed to the Supreme Court in an urgent hearing to stay the order.
The court has sought a response from the Goa Coastal Management Authority by September 14. It has also sought a report on the survey of the restaurant, including photographs.
When Phogat was brought dead to a hospital in North Goa on August 23, the police had initially said that she appeared to have suffered a heart attack.
However, two days later, Phogat’s brother Rinku Dhaka filed a complaint accusing her personal assistant Sudhir Sangwan and his aide Sukhvinder Singh of killing her. The police then filed a murder case on August 25 and arrested Sangwan and Singh the next day.
On August 27, the police said that Sangwan and Singh confessed to having mixed an “obnoxious chemical” into a liquid and made Phogat drink it during a party. The incident is said to have taken place at the Curlies Restaurant between the night of August 22 and the early hours of August 23.
The police have arrested several persons in the case, including Edwin Nunes, the owner of the restaurant.
Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority officials said the fresh order to demolish the restaurant was issued on Thursday, according to PTI.
The coastal management body has also ordered shutting down all commercial activities in nightclubs, bars and restaurants being run by Edwin Nunes and Linet Nunes, the co-owner of the establishment.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Edwin Nunes was granted bail by a local court in connection with the murder case. Advocate Kamalakant Poulekar, representing Nunes, said that according to bail conditions, his client cannot visit Curlies and needs to take permission before leaving Goa.
Phogat had risen to fame with her videos on the TikTok app. She had joined the BJP in 2008.
In 2019, she contested the Haryana Assembly elections from Adampur constituency and lost to Kuldeep Bishnoi, who was a Congress leader then. In 2020, Phogat was a participant of reality show Bigg Boss.