Churchill sent to judicial custody, asks why CB silent on dates and time

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 13 August 2015 18:33 IST

Former PWD minister Churchill Alemao, arrested in connection with the Louis Berger bribery case, was remanded to seven-day judicial custody today.

Hearing on his bail application began today afternoon.

He was arrested little before midnight on 5 August and was in the police custody for the last eight days.

The crime branch of Goa police has accused him as the main criminal conspirator, along with former chief minister Digambar Kamat, in the bribery case.

The special court at Panaji, headed by judge B P Deshpande, heard the arguments today made by Alemao’s counsel Adv Ashok Mundargi, a senior lawyer from Mumbai.

Adv Guruprasad Kirtani, counsel of the Goa police, will argue tomorrow, after the hearing on the anticipatory bail plea of Kamat is completed.

The order could thus prolong till Monday, 17 August, due to two consecutive holidays on 15 August and Sunday.

Both Kamat and Alemao are facing charge of accepting huge amount of bribe from Louis Berger International Inc., the US-based consultancy firm.

The firm was granted award for the consultancy of the augmentation of water supply and sewerage project, funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), worth Rs 1031 crore.

The Lois Berger officials have already admitted before Department of Justice in New Jersey of having paid a bribe of around Rs six crore to ‘a’ minister and government officials.

Adv Mundargi asked why the crime branch is silent on citing reasons for taking bribes in 2010 when Alemao had no control left on the project after awarding contract to Louis Berger in 2009.  

He also pointed out that the investigating agency has not mentioned the year when Alemao had allegedly held back the JICA file and asked for a bribe to clear it.

According to him, Alemao had not control of any kind over the JICA project since everything was finalised before he took over as the PWD minister.

The dates he provided were as follows:

7 June 2007: A tripartite agreement was filed between Government of India, Government of Goa and JICA was signed.

26 May 2009: Contract of consultancy was awarded to Louis Berger.

19 June 2009: Work order was issued to Louis Berger.

16 August 2009: Alemao took over as the PWD minister from Sudin Dhawalikar.

“What for my client will ask the bribe almost one year after this, supposedly in December 2010, when even the bills were paid through the central government”, asked Adv Mundargi.

The senior counsel also asked why Alemao was arrested and then his office and house were searched for the missing JICA file almost after five days.

He charged that the crime branch was deliberately not providing exact date, time or even the amount of money paid as bribe, fearing that legitimate defence would be raised against it.

Adv Mundargi also flayed the argument of recovering the bribe amount from Alemao, for which they needed his custody.

“Is it something like property that could be recovered by arresting him”, he asked.

It needs to be seen how the crime branch counters all the arguments tomorrow.

 

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