Observing that the Assam Police CID’s probe into the Louis Berger bribery case was progressing at a “snail’s pace”, the Gauhati High Court has directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take over the case. The case of alleged bribery came to light when one Bhaben Handique lodged a FIR at Dispur police station in 2015, alleging that Louis Berger had paid substantial bribes to some officials to get a Rs 1,452-crore contract for setting up water supply plants in Guwahati. In August 2015, the state government lodged a similar complaint with Assam Police CID, following which the probe began. But even as the CID began its probe, Handique went to the high court and sought a CBI probe, alleging that the case has not been properly investigated by the Assam Police agency. The high court, in its order issued late Friday evening, said that though the probe moved fast during the first four months, it lagged after that.
The high court, in its order issued late Friday evening, said that though the probe moved fast during the first four months, it lagged after that. “It was incumbent upon the state machinery to ensure a proper, effective and unbiased investigation into the allegations made in the first information report. This court totally fails to understand as to why the investigation has been done at such a snail’s pace where prompt and effective action was wholly warranted more so when the allegations involve payment of bribe by the said company to various government officials to the tune of Rs 6 crores approximately to win contract in Guwahati valued at Rs.1452 crores,” the court order said.
The court also said the probe so far was conducted in a partisan manner. “It is crystal clear that the investigating agency has not investigated the case in right earnest and has been conducting the same in a partisan manner,” the order issued by Chief Justice Ajit Singh and Justice Manojit Bhuyan said. Pointing out that the CID was not in a position to “act independently since high-ranking officials are involved in awarding the contract”, it asked the CBI to take over the investigation.