Silly Souls Cafe being run under lease to Eightall: RTI documents

DOCUMENTS availed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act have revealed that the Silly Souls Café and Bar in Goa was run under a lease agreement between Dean D’Gama, the lawful attorney of his father Anthony D’Gama, and Eightall Food and Beverages Limited Liability Partnership (LLP).

The Indian Express had on August 3 reported that two companies — Ugraya Mercantile and Ugraya Agro Farms — owned by Union Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani’s kin, had in 2020-21 invested in Eightall Food and Beverages. As per GSTIN records, Eightall mentions its “principal place of business” as H No 452, Ground Floor, Bouta Waddo, Assagao, North Goa, Goa. This is also the address of Silly Souls Goa Café and Bar.

Smriti Irani is, however, not a shareholder in Ugraya Mercantile and Ugraya Agro Farms.

On Thursday, lawyer and activist Aires Rodrigues, who availed the lease agreement and the permissions given to the restaurant by the Directorate of Food and Drugs Administration in Goa under RTI said the documents revealed that a lease agreement was signed between Anthony D’Gama’s lawful attorney Dean D’Gama and Eightall Food and Beverages on January 1, 2021, for a period of ten years at a monthly rent of Rs 50,000. Documents show that the lease agreement was executed at Mapusa on January 7, 2021, before Notary Benedict Nazareth.

When contacted, Nazareth, who also represents the D’Gamas in the proceedings before the Excise Commissioner, told The Indian Express, on Thursday, “I have instructions from my clients that whatever communication is exchanged between my clients and myself is confidential and I am not supposed to disclose it to anyone. Whatever has to be decided, will be decided by the courts. The matter is before the quasi-judicial authority. Let the authorities decide. Whatever documents have to be given to the quasi-judicial authority have already been given by my clients.”

In their reply to the show cause notice issued by the Excise Commissioner on July 25, late Anthony D’Gama’s wife Merlyn and son Dean D’Gama, owners of the premises in Assagao from where the restaurant was run, stated that the property was “exclusively” their “business” and involved “no other person/ persons”.

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The lease agreement, annexed with the documents with the Directorate of Food and Drugs Administration that granted the persion for the restaurant, names Anthony D’Gama, through his lawful attorney his son Dean D’Gama as the “lessor” and M/s Eightall Food and Beverages Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), represented by its authorised signatory Chalston D’Souza as the “lessee”.

The agreement states, “All licenses standing in the name of the lessor shall be renewed by the lessee in the name of the lessor at the lessee’s cost and expense and all taxes as applicable such as GST/TDS/garbage tax, trade license etc. shall be borne by the lessee at his own cost and expense.”

When contacted, Harsh Khaneja, designated partner at Eightall Food and Beverages LLP, who was appointed the authorised signatory said he was no longer with Eightall Food and Beverages and he was not aware of the documents. A questionnaire mailed to Yogesh Vajani, Director, Eightall Food and Beverages, did not elicit a response.

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