Kamat gets bail, CM says police free to take call

PANAJI, Aug 19:
In a relief to former Goa chief minister and Congress leader Digambar Kamat, a local court today granted him anticipatory bail in the Louis Berger bribery case even as Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said he will not come in the way if police sought his permission to appeal against the order in higher court.
Kamat, who had earlier given interim protection from arrest, was granted anticipatory bail by District Judge B P Deshpande, who asked the 61-year-old politician to furnish a surety of Rs 1 lakh.
The court also asked him not to tamper with evidence and cooperate with the Crime Branch probing the case as and when summoned.
When reporters asked Parsekar whether the Government would challenge the district court’s decision in High Court, he said, “If Crime Branch feels that it is a genuine case then they are free to do that (approach the HC for cancellation of anticipatory bail).”
“I will not force them to appeal in the higher court. I will give a go ahead if they approach me asking for the permission,” he said
“It is for the Crime Branch to decide on the future of the case. I have never interfered in their investigation,” Parsekar told reporters on the sidelines of a function organised by Photo Journalists Association of Goa.
The Crime Branch is investigating the case of alleged payment of bribe by officials of Louis Berger, a US-based firm, to an Indian Minister to win consultancy for a water augmentation and sewerage project funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Goa.
Fearing arrest in the case, Kamat, who was questioned by the investigators in connection with the pay-off scandal, had moved the district court for anticipatory bail.
Kamat, who has termed all charges against him as politically motivated, appeared before the Crime Branch which recorded his statement for over three hours on Monday.
The Crime Branch recently slapped on him an additional charge of causing disappearance of evidence apart from those already brought against him under IPC and anti-graft law.
Section 201 of IPC (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) was added in the FIR against Kamat on Sunday, police had said.
Kamat was booked under IPC section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and sections 7, 8, 9 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act in connection with the case, which took place when he was the chief minister.
The court had earlier rejected the bail plea of former Public Works Department Minister Churchill Alemao and an ex-official arrested in the case.
Alemao, who was PWD Minister in the Kamat government, and three others, including former Vice-President of Louis Berger Satyakam Mohanty, head of JICA-aided project in Goa Anand Wachasunder and alleged hawala dealer Raychand Soni have been arrested in connection with the case.
Mohanty was granted bail on Monday on a surety of Rs 1 lakh and barred him from leaving India. (PTI)