Berger bribery drama shifts to HC from today

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 26 August 2015 20:40 IST

The whole drama of Louis Berger bribery case shifted to Bombay high court at Panaji, from today, with the US-based consultancy firm making the first entry.

The high court has started hearing matters relating to notices or court verdicts, challenged by Louis Berger International Inc., the crime branch of Goa police and former PWD minister Churchill Alemao.

All three parties have come before the high court, blaming each other.

And there are two matters, where the CBI court is blamed for passing perverse orders – for granting the bail and not granting the bail – to equally heavyweight politicians.

The division bench comprising of Justice F M Reis and Justice K L Wadhane today heard the matter related to the notice of crime branch of Goa police, challenged by Louis Berger International Inc.

The honourable court will hear tomorrow the verdict of the CBI court, granting anticipatory bail to former chief minister Digambar Kamat, challenged by the crime branch.

And on Friday, it will hear similar matter, where Alemao has challenged the order of the CBI court, rejecting his bail application.

The Goa police are probing the bribery case, where former CM Kamat and former minister Alemao are charged of accepting huge amount of bribes from the US-based firm, which is providing consultancy to a water supply and sewerage project in Goa.

The project worth Rs 1031 crore, is financed by Japan International Cooperation Agency with low interest loan, in Goa.

Louis Berger officials have admitted before the Department of Justice in New Jersey that it paid total bribe of Rs six crore to ‘a’ minister and government officials in Goa to get the consultancy work for the JICA project.

Louis Berger makes volte face

In order to get authentic information in this regard, the crime branch had served a notice to Louis Berger, asking for relevant documents, under section 91 of CrPC.

Rather than providing the documents, the US-based consultancy firm challenged this notice before the high court, terming it as bad in law and abuse of process of law.

However, the firm made a volte face today, assuring the high court to fully cooperate with the crime branch as and when required.

After hearing both the sides, the division bench of Bombay high court at Panaji has now fixed the matter after three weeks.

The main information crime branch has sought is the list of vendors, agents and intermediaries paid by Louis Berger.

It has also sought information regarding the internal inquiry the firm conducted in bribery case, details of officials deputed in Goa for the JICA project and communication with Goa’s project director of JICA project.

CB blames for granting bail to Digambar

The second equally important matter, the hearing on which would begin tomorrow, is the CBI court’s order granting anticipatory bail to former CM Kamat.

He had filed the anticipatory bail application on 5th August while the CBI court had granted him bail on 19th August.

The order was challenged by the crime branch very next day.

The crime branch has claimed that the order of CBI court is illegal, perverse and bad in law.

The police has also blamed that the approach of special judge B P Deshpande was casual while passing the order of granting anticipatory bail to Kamat.

Churchill blames for not granting him bail

Alemao, who filed his petition yesterday before the Bombay high court at Panaji, makes similar allegations against the CBI court, but for not granting him bail.

His bail application was rejected twice by the CBI court, once on 17th August and then on 24th August.

He had made a fresh plea to the same court after Kamat was granted anticipatory bail.

Both Kamat and Alemao are booked for similar charges of bribery in the case.

However, the CBI court refused to grant him bail on the basis of parity, stating that the situations are not similar, though charges are similar.

His application would come up for hearing on Friday. 

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