Louis Berger case: Kamat says police acting like ‘servants’

Panaji, Aug 12 (IANS) Under pressure over his alleged role in the Louis Berger bribery scam, former Goa chief minister Digambar Kamat on Wednesday equated police with “servants”, but also conceded that his arrest could cause “immense” damage to his political career.

In his plea seeking anticipatory bail, Kamat, who managed to avail interim bail till Thursday morning, accused police of corruption and said arrest was a “lucrative source for police corruption”.

“If I am arrested, I will suffer great ignominy, humiliation and disgrace which will lead to many serious consequences not only for me but my entire family and also for the entire community more particularly because most people do not make any distinction between arrest at a pre-conviction stage or a post-conviction stage. My arrest will cause immense political damage to me personally,” Kamat said in his anticipatory bail plea filed before the Special Court in Panaji on Wednesday.

Kamat, along with former PWD Minister Churchill Alemao and other government officials have been accused of allegedly accepting a $976,630 bribe in 2010 from officials of US-based Louis Berger consultancy firm to secure implementation rights of a multi-billion dollar water and sewerage project in Goa worth Rs.1,031 crore funded by the Japan International Co-Operation Agency, which was cleared in 2010 by a Congress-led coalition government.

According to Goa Police Crime Branch, which is investigating the bribery case, Kamat was paid over Rs.1 crore in multiple installments to ensure that Louis Berger got the consultancy rights for the project.

Kamat has rejected the bribery allegation, claiming he, as chief minister, never cleared the file and that the project was finalised by the PWD ministry. He has also lashed out at police, which he claimed is corrupt as well as acting as a servant of the state home department.

“The ongoing investigation is tainted, biased, prejudicial, one-sided, self serving and like a master lodging a complaint and directing his servant to subordinates to enquire into it. The servants will have to say that the master is always correct,” Kamat said, adding that the “power of arrest is one of the lucrative sources of police corruption”.

Insisting on his innocence, Kamat also called the grounds raised by police for his arrest as “whimsical, fanciful, imaginary and self-contradictory”.

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