An anticipatory bail plea of former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat in an illegal mining case was today opposed by the special investigation team (SIT) of Goa crime branch which sought his custodial interrogation. On April 24, a Goa district court granted interim anticipatory bail to Kamat on the condition that he would cooperate with the SIT. The veteran Congress leader had then also appeared before an investigating officer of the SIT in connection with the case. The district court here today heard the anticipatory bail petition filed by Kamat. “The SIT, in its reply, demanded custodial interrogation of Kamat while opposing his petition for anticipatory bail. For a fair probe in the case, there are several questions which he needs to answer,” a senior SIT official said. The court posted the matter for next hearing on May 29. Kamat was questioned in connection the case by the SIT in February, 2014 and also last month. According to the report of Justice (Retd) M B Shah Commission, illegal mining to the tune of Rs 35,000 crore allegedly took place in Goa from 2005 to 2012 when the Supreme Court banned iron ore extraction in the state.
A complaint was filed by the mines and geology department in July 2013 seeking to fix criminal liability on those involved in illegal mining as pointed out by various committees, including the Centre-appointed Shah Commission. The crime branch then registered an FIR in August 2013 against those named in various reports (Shah Commission and other committees), including Kamat, former mines and geology director Arvind Lolienkar and some officials of the department and mining firms. The FIR was registered under various IPC sections of conspiracy and public servant disobeying law and relevant sections of Prevention of Corruption Act, Mines and Minerals Development Act, Mineral Conservation and Development Rules and Goa Prevention of Illegal Mining Transportation, Storage of Minerals Rules 2004. Based on the complaint, the SIT was formed by the then BJP government to probe the case. An apex court-appointed Central Empowered Committee and state Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee had also confirmed illegal mining in the state.