Louis Berger probe: Kamat’s gets anticipatory bail

Panaji, Aug 19 (IANS) A local court on Wednesday granted anticipatory bail to Goa’s former chief minister Digambar Kamat in connection with the Louis Berger bribery case, even as a senior official of Goa Police Crime Branch said the order would be challenged in the high court.

Granting bail to Kamat, Special Court Judge B.P. Deshpande asked him to furnish a bond of Rs.1 lakh, a surety of a like amount along with directions not to influence witnesses or tamper with the evidence in the case.

The Crime Branch will move Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court against the bail order, a senior official said.

“We will appeal against the order today (Wednesday) afternoon,” the police official said on condition of anonymity.

The Crime Branch, meanwhile, issued summons to James McClung, a former senior vice president of Louis Berger, through diplomatic channels. He is one of the two officials who have pleaded guilty in a US court to paying bribes to Goa officials.

Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar earlier on Wednesday ruled out interference in the bribery case in which Kamat and ex-minister Churchill Alemao are allegedly involved.

Parsekar told reporters that police were free to decide as far as appealing against the bail order was concerned and that there was no interference from him.

“If they feel it is a genuine case, they are free to appeal,” Parsekar said.

Kamat has been on interim bail for nearly two weeks, even as the prosecution, which has been demanding his arrest, has alleged that the former chief minister received more than Rs.1 crore in bribes in multiple instalments, including one at the official residence of the chief minister, to allot the consultancy project to Louis Berger in 2010 when he was heading a Congress-led coalition government.

Kamat, 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.

The project, worth Rs.1,031 crore, was funded by the Japan International Co-Operation Agency (JICA) and cleared in 2010.

Kamat has been charged under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the Indian Penal Code as well as sections 7, 8, 9 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

In their petition to the special court, police argued that Kamat was a habitual offender and sought his custody claiming he had a copy of a crucial JICA file which has “disappeared” and whose recovery was vital to the investigation.

Kamat has been insisting that the project was cleared by the PWD and that he had no role in allotting the consultancy project.

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