Leader of Opposition in the Goa Assembly and Congress MLA Chandrakant Kavlekar and his wife Savitri, also a Congress leader, were on Saturday booked in connection with a 2013 disproportionate assets case. The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) sleuths also raided the residence and office premises of the couple.
According to Superintendent of Police (ACB) Bosco George, an FIR has been filed against Kavlekar under sections 13(ii) read with 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, while his wife Savitri, who unsuccessfully contested the assembly polls on a Congress ticket from the Sanguem constituency in 2017, has been booked for abetting the crime.
"The raids were conducted on Saturday morning in connection with the disproportionate assets case where 14 properties worth crores of rupees were purchased in the state of Kerala. Kavlekar and his wife have amassed disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs 4.78 crore, which is around 59.21 per cent above their known sources of income," George said at a press conference in Panaji.
The ACB does not rule out custodial interrogation of Goa Congress leader Kavlekar.
He said the properties were purchased between January 2007 and April 2013, during which Kavlekar held the post of Chairman of the Goa Industrial Development Corporation on three occasions.
The ACB raids on Saturday were conducted at the couple's residence at Betul, in Quepem sub-district and their official premises in Margao town, located 35 km from Panaji.
Reacting to the raids, Kavlekar told reporters that he had done nothing wrong. "I have been co-operating with the ACB and yet this is the fourth occasion when I have been raided. I know I have not done anything wrong," the Leader of Opposition said.
Goa Congress President Shantaram Naik, however, said the raids were "political in nature" and there was pressure on the Congress MLAs to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government.
"The raids are clearly political in nature. This government fears it might come into a minority soon and therefore has been trying to use police action to threaten Congress MLAs into joining the BJP government's fold," Naik told IANS.
Naik also said the state machinery was being misused by the BJP-led coalition government for political purposes.
"The disproportionate assets case goes so many years back. Any investigation does not take so long. The timing and intent of the raids is condemnable," Naik added.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, however, defended the ACB action as standard procedure.
"It's a standard procedure. They probably have found disproportionate assets, therefore, have acted," Parrikar said.
When asked to react to the Congress allegations that the raids were politically motivated, Parrikar shot back, asking whether the Congress was unwilling to accept the factual position.
"Does Congress refute factual position? Whether there is a disproportionate asset or not?" Parrikar said, adding that he did not have to monitor such cases.
Parrikar also said that Kavlekar did not have to resign from his position as MLA or Leader of Opposition, because at this stage, only an FIR had been registered against him.
"He should not, until court finds him guilty. Actually the FIR is just basically for purpose of investigation. As far as his resignation is concerned, it is for the Congress and him to decide," Parrikar said.
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