Will Digambar's anticipatory bail be cancelled on 16 Oct?

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 13 October 2015 21:25 IST

The whole state of Goa will now once again wait for 16 October to see whether the high court quashes the order of anticipatory bail granted to former chief minister Digambar Kamat.

The hearing before Justice C V Bhadang concluded today and the order has been fixed this Friday.

The hearing afresh had begun before a fresh bench of a single judge from 1 October.

Before that, Justice K L Wadane had suddenly withdrawn from hearing the case on 29 September after seven-day long hearing since 21 August.

The crime branch of Goa police had challenged the anticipatory bail granted to Kamat on 19 August by the CBI court.

The Goa police have not succeeded in arresting former CM Kamat, who is alleged to be the main conspirator in the Louis Berger briber case, since 5 August, the day he moved the court for bail, anticipating arrest.

The incident would complete 72 days on 16 October.  

Meanwhile, former PWD minister Churchill Alemao, co-conspirator in the same case, was released yesterday after spending 68 days in the custody, including eight days in the police custody.

DETAILS

Kamat had moved for anticipatory bail on 5 August, the day Alemao was arrested at near-midnight.

He was granted bail yesterday by the CBI court after rejecting his bail applications twice by the same court and once by the high court.

However, he got the advantage of ‘change in circumstances’ as the crime branch filed chargesheet in the bribery case on 28 September, naming him as one of the accused.

The police have however continued to name Kamat as a suspect in the chargesheet, claiming his custody for investigation, after which they are expected to file supplementary chargesheet.

Kamat’s lawyer has continued to deny former CM’s involvement in the bribery case and has termed it as political revenge for quitting the BJP.

He had quit the BJP along with three other ministers, in January 2005,pushing then Manohar Parrikar government into minority.

He was then elected on Congress ticket in a by-poll held on 2 June, to become a minister in the then Pratapsing Rane government and then the chief minister for full term after 2007 Assembly election.

 

POLITICAL TURMOIL

The arrest of Alemao, but not Kamat, had resulted into a major political turmoil in the state, especially among the anti-Congress masses, who had pushed down the Congress to mere nine seats in the 40-member House, while electing the BJP to power with full majority in 2012 election.

People on social media had made several allegations including a match-fixing between Kamat and now-defence-minister Manohar Parrikar.

It had also reflected in Salcete adversely with open allegations  that minorities (Alemao) sent to jail while upper caste majority people (Kamat) rescued from getting arrested.

Kamat was granted bail, not on merit, but purely on technical ground of the crime branch not citing a reason in the police diary of his arrest.

As a result, the top bras of the BJP, including central ministers Parrikar and Shripad Naik, had an emergency meeting to ‘damage control’ the situation on 19 August, the day Kamat was granted bail.

As a result, speaker Rajendra Arlekar – representing the SC – was inducted as a minister recently while planning to elevate deputy speaker Anant Shet to the speaker’s post.

The deputy speaker’s post is yet to be named by the ruling BJP.

BACKGROUND

Kamat, the Margao MLA and Alemao, who lost 2012 election, were indicted in the Louis Berger bribery case by filing a FIR on 21 July.

Since then, crime branch of Goa police arrested five persons, including Alemao but did not succeed in taking Kamat into custody.

Both the Congress heavyweights are charged of taking huge amount of bribes, on more than two occasions, from Louis Berger International Inc, a US-based consultancy firm.

The firm is executing a water supply and sewerage project worth Rs 1031 crore, financed by Japan International Cooperation Agency ( JICA).

The bribery case came to light when James McClung, Asia head of Louis Berger, admitted before the Department of Justice in New Jersey of having paid total bribe of Rs six crore to ‘a’ minister and government officials for getting the award of work.      

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