PANAJI: A court in Goa directed the prosecution on Thursday to file a reply on a plea moved by BJP MLA Atanasio Monserrate, accused of raping a minor girl, to produce the victim's birth certificate.
North Goa District Judge Sherin Paul said the reply should be filed by September 19, the next date of hearing.
Monserrate's lawyer Damodar Dhond requested the court to ask the prosecution to produce the victim's birth certificate, as the charge sheet claims that she was a minor at the time of the alleged offence.
According to the investigating officer, her birth certificate did not exist, Dhond said.
"But the victim's mother has produced a birth certificate before the government-appointed Child Welfare Committee.
So the prosecution should be asked to produce the certificate before the court," he said.
The result of an ossification test was the only evidence before the court as regards the victim's age, Dhond said.
"The ossification test says the child is between 17 and 18 years of age. The birth certificate would establish how old the victim is," he said.
Monserrate is accused of raping the girl in 2016. He is also facing charges related to human trafficking in the case.
The MLA, who won the Assembly bypoll from Panaji on a Congress ticket earlier this year, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) last month, along with nine other Congress legislators.