PANAJI -- Former Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat was today questioned by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Goa Crime Branch for over two hours in connection with an illegal mining scam.
"Kamat was placed under arrest after the interrogation, but was released as he had already secured an interim anticipatory bail," an officer investigating the case said.
"Kamat was questioned for around two-and-a-half hours on various clarifications required by the SIT probing the complaint of illegal mining in Goa," a senior crime branch official told PTI.
Prior to his questioning, Kamat moved an anticipatory bail plea before the district court here this morning.
The court granted him interim anticipatory bail on a condition that he would cooperate with the SIT, and fixed the next hearing for 2 May.
While granting the relief, the court ordered Kamat to furnish a bail bond of Rs one lakh and a surety of the same amount.
The veteran Congress leader then appeared before an investigating officer of the SIT in connection with the case.
The SIT has already questioned two former state Mines and Geology department directors--Arvind Lolienkar and Jagannath Bhingui.
Kamat, who is named in the FIR filed by the crime branch in the case, was summoned on 18 April but had failed to appear before it, claiming that he was out of town.
He was first questioned in the case by the SIT in February 2014.
According to the report of Justice (Retd) M B Shah Commission, illegal mining to the tune of Rs 35,000 crore 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 the 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, Lolienkar and some other officials of the department, mining firms and others.
The FIR was registered under various IPC sections, including 120 (b) (conspiracy), 166 (public servant disobeying law), 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.
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