They may talk about honesty and transparency but a closer look will reveal that the political parties are all united in their love for money thus leading to activities that go against the law which eventually lead to cases being filed against them. VIBHA VERMA takes a close look at the cases against the politicians in the State
The continued politicking in the State with frequent attempts to form the government and the switching of political affiliations is not the only sign of being a politician in Goa. There are other commonalities the members of the political class share with one being very prominent ie police investigations.
The cases against politicians became the norm since the time BJP and especially Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar got elected to the important chair heading the reins of the State. The case against former minister Somnath Zuwarkar was amongst the early instance of politicians being haunted by the police machinery.
But the trend of cases being piled up against the politicians including former Chief Ministers began from the year 2012, when BJP got undisputed majority in the House.
To begin with cases of illegal mining against then outgoing CM Digambar Kamat and his team of mines department officials and others were filed. The investigations then went on name a few of the current rulers including Vishwajit Rane, his father Pratapsinh Rane and others. Small time politicians including NCP’s Prafulla Hede were also questioned by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which launched a mega investigation into this multi-crore scam. The complainant in these cases was Directorate of Mines and Geology.
Several cases related to mining are charge-sheeted barring one which involves investigation into the main scam revolving around whopping 187-odd leases. The investigation is huge as each lease is being probed separately and also charge-sheet is expected to be mammoth.
Then followed the developments in the USA casting its ugly shadow in Goa. Two officials of Louis Berger Company – James McClung and Richard Hirsch of the UAE - had confessed to the US court of paying bribes to Goa politicians.
The Louis Berger international bribery scandal has Kamat, the then PWD Minister Churchill Alemao and other officials charge sheeted under various sections of Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act. Alemao even went to jail, and got the bail after 69 days in custody.
Another scandal is the much talked about Serula communidade against ex-Tourism minister Dilip Parulekar who along with Peter Martins, then attorney of Comunidade of Serula and Irene Sequeira, then Administrator of Comunidade of Bardez are facing trial before the Mapusa JMFC.
But one of the most prolonged investigations is into the disproportionate assets case against Chandrakant Kavlekar and Savitri. A First Information Report against the two in September 2017 came after a five-year long inquiry in which the couple is charged with disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs 4,78,58,471 – around 59.21 percent above their known source of from January 2007 to April 2013. Kavlekar has even faced a barrage of questioning by the ACB and is currently on anticipatory bail.
Going back to Congress-regime, the State was shaken when over a dozen policemen were arrested in the drug nexus involving two foreign nationals. The then Home Minister Ravi Naik’ and his son Roy’s name also cropped up with FIR filed without naming the politician father-son duo.
While these are the fresh files, one of the oldest cases is of the Power Scam against current minister Mauvin Godiinho, which was filed by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. A lot of water has flown under the Mandovi bridge since, and now Parrikar and Godinho are comrades.
Similarly, Louis Berger scam that saw dramatic twists and turns during the course of investigation was charge sheeted in two months of filing FIR. With the charge sheet filed in September 2015 against seven accused including ‘marginally noted accused’ Alemao followed by supplementary charge sheet against ‘main conspirator’ Kamat, the trial has still not begun as framing of charge is pending.
It’s just not these two cases but two mining cases against Kamat in January and February this year is also awaiting framing of charge while a third charge sheet is expected to filed soon.
In a major relief to ex-chief minister Pratapsingh Rane and then Congress minister Vishwajit Rane (presently in Manohar Parrikar-led cabinet), the Special Investigation Team (SIT) had recently filed a closure report before the Panjim Special Court on account of lack of evidence.
In one of those many cases wherein the police dragged its feet is the PWD tenders scam yet again involving then PWD Minister Churchill Alemao. After an FIR was registered in September 2013, the case is still not chargesheeted.
The investigation refers to the Rs 300 crore PWD tenders scam case wherein then executive engineer P T Parker, who was suspended and later took voluntary retirement is also an accused in the case.