Judge withdraws from Digambar case, fresh hearing from 1 Oct

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 29 September 2015 20:12 IST

The case of former chief minister Digambar Kamat’s anticipatory bail took a dramatic twist today with the high court judge suddenly withdrawing from it. A fresh hearing of the whole case would now begin from 1 October.

After around seven hearings since 21 August, Justice K L Wadane today said: “Not before me” and adjourned the hearing.

The case was then mentioned before the second judge in the list of high court, Justice C V Bhadang.

He has agreed and fixed the hearing on Thursday, 1 October.

“It would be a fresh hearing with all the arguments once again”, said PP Adv Santosh Rivonkar.

It is since 5 August that the crime branch is trying to get custody of former CM Kamat, but not succeeding.

Former CM Kamat and former PWD minister Churchill Alemao are indicted in a bribery case, where they are facing charges of accepting huge amount of bribe from Louis Berger International Inc, a US-based consultancy firm, as main conspirators.

Goa police filed a case on 21 July after officials of Louis Berger admitted before the Department of Justice in New Jersey of having given a total bribe of Rs six crore to ‘a’ minister and government officials of Goa government between 2009 to 2011, when Congress was ruling.

Since then, the police managed to arrest five top persons, including former minister Alemao, but not Kamat.

After a prolonged hearing, Kamat finally was granted anticipatory bail by the CBI court on 19 August, leaving no option before the crime branch but to approach the high court, challenging the order.

The hearing of the petition of Goa police had started before Bombay high court at Goa from 21 August and went on till yesterday with four-day argument by PP Rivonkar, after which Kamat’s lawyer Adv Surendra Desai had been arguing for the last three days.

In between came the holidays of Chovoth, then the Eid and now again the national holiday on Friday, 2 October followed by weekend holidays.

It now needs to be seen whether the new judge would expedite the matter or the hearings would once again prolong for weeks together.

Justice Wadani was hearing the criminal matters before his single bench only in the evening session as he was sitting on a division bench in the morning session.

What Justice Bhadang does needs to be seen since he also has civil assignments.  

Whatever may be the circumstances, but it is true that Kamat is getting a pretty long rope to stay out from the attempted custody of police for almost two months now.

On the other hand, Alemao has been in the custody for 55 days while A M Wachasundar, director of JICA-funded project, has been in the lock up for 64 days, since 27 July.

Meanwhile, the police have even filed a preliminary chargesheet yesterday, a requirement within 60 days.

The whole controversy surrounds a water supply and sewerage project worth Rs 1031 crore, funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Louis Berger was chosen to be the consultancy firm to execute the project in Goa.

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Previous Comments

With High Court judge withdrawing from the case, the suspicion of Kamat being involved in the Corruption case is getting stronger. However much Kamat now prays to Lord Damodar, he cannot escape the Law of Land. He seems to be using his money and muscle power to full swing. CM Parsekar should take this corruption case seriously and put them behind bars.

- Vinay, Ponda | 30 th September 2015 09:18

 

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