HC discusses why Digambar was not even technically arrested

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 27 August 2015 19:47 IST

(File Photo: Arvind Tengse)

Technical ground once again came to the rescue of former chief minister Digambar Kamat in getting his arrest delayed further in the Louis Berger briber case.

After granting anticipatory bail to him by the CBI court on 19th August, Kamat has still not been formally arrested and released by the crime branch of Goa police, for the last eight days.

Though this is a mere technical arrest, precisely this was the issue raised by Adv Surendra Desai, counsel of Kamat, when Kamat’s matter came up in the high court today afternoon.

The crime branch has gone into appeal, challenging the order of CBI court, granting anticipatory bail to the former Congress chief minister.

Adv Desai challenged the maintainability of the appeal, stating that it is premature to come into appeal when the basic formality of showing technical arrest is not completed.

“The court has granted anticipatory bail to my client Digambar Kamat. But where has it been executed by the investigating agency?”, asked Adv Desai.

The matter is being heard by the division bench, comprising of Justice F M Reis and Justice K L Wadhane.

It is a legal requirement under section 439 (2) of CrPC, he pointed out, while citing several judgements of the high courts and the Supreme Court.

His contention however was countered by Adv Subodh Desai, counsel of the crime branch, again citing several observations and judgements by the upper courts.

Adv Desai argued that the crime branch is challenging the order of the CBI court, thus rest of the technical procedures do not matter.

The arguments and counter-arguments went on for over an hour.

The crime branch also did not assure the court to come back after completing the procedure of technical arrest of Kamat.

“The matter would be now heard once again tomorrow with Kamat’s lawyer continuing with his arguments. We have to wait to see what the learned judges say”, Adv Santosh Rivonkar, the public prosecutor told goanews.com.

After the high court decides on this technical issue, the bench would then hear the arguments on the lower court granting anticipatory bail to Kamat.

The Bombay high court at Panaji normally hears such matters only on Thursday evening and for a full day on Friday.

It is to be seen whether arguments on the appeal would complete tomorrow, failing which the matter could be postponed by one more week.

The same bench is also slated to hear former PWD minister Churchill Alemao’s appeal tomorrow.

He has challenged the CBI court’s order, which rejected his bail application twice, on the grounds that both Kamat and he are facing similar charges and should be considered on parity.

Special judge B P Deshpande of the CBI court had rejected Alemao’s contention and rejected Alemao’s bail application, while stating that Kamat was granted bail on technical ground.

The technical ground was the provisions section 41-A of CrPC, as per which, the reason for Kamat’s arrest was required to be recorded in the police diary, but was not done.  

And now, it is another technical ground under the provisions of Section 439 (2), which requires completing the procedure of technical arrest and release before challenging the order.

No matter what the high court decides on the issue, but the fact came to the light today that the crime branch has not even technically arrested the former chief minister, for the last eight days.

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.

Police have already arrested four persons, including Alemao, in the case, but Kamat – the alleged co-conspirator with Alemao - has still not been arrested.

The court has granted bail only to Satyakam Mohanty, former vice president of Louis Berger (India).

Besides Alemao, suspended project director A M Wachasundar and hawala operator Raichand Soni are also in the judicial lock up. 

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