New Delhi [India], April 7 (ANI): A Special Court on Thursday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to withdraw the Look Out Circular (LOC) issued against journalist and human right activist Aakar Patel in connection with the violation of Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA).
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pawan Kumar of Rouse Avenue Court on Thursday said, "Considering the facts and circumstances of this case and the law laid down by the High Court of Delhi, this court is of the considered view that the LOC is liable to be set aside, therefore, the CBI is directed to withdraw/recall the LOC issued against the accused immediately."
The CBI is directed to take the appropriate action and give intimation to the concerned authority regarding the same. A compliance report of the withdrawal of LOC will be filed on April 8.
Court also noted that there was no such ground or reason for the issuance of LOC. LOC should not have been issued merely on the basis of apprehensions arising out of whims and fancies of the investigating agency.
Court also said, "The fundamental rights of any person can not be curtailed without any procedure established by law. Apparently, the LOC in the present case was got issued in violation of the guidelines laid down by the High Court of Delhi and office memorandum of the concerned Ministry."
During the arguments, the CBI opposed the application saying that the charge sheet was filed without arrest and that the application was moved in anticipation that Patel will flee from justice, there was the likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice if he was allowed to leave the country.
Appearing for Aakaar Patel, advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir submitted that citizens' rights cannot be railroaded by an agency like this. The time has come that we should send a suitable reply to law enforcement/ agencies and society. He clearly said that the CBI concern Investigation officer has even failed to inform the applicant about the issuance of LOC against him.
The Court said, "This act of the investigating agency has caused monetary loss of around Rs 3.8 lakhs to the accused as he has missed his flight and he was not allowed to board because of the LOC issued against him. It is further expected that accountability of the concerned officials, in this case, be fixed."
The Court also said that in the present scenario, the Director of CBI is expected to sensitize the officials who are part of the issuance of LOC. It is further expected that the accountability of the concerned officials, in this case, be fixed.
Patel, who was stopped at Bengaluru Airport on Wednesday, moved the court sought removal and withdrawal of LOC issued against him.
The petition stated that the applicant is in urgent need to travel as he has to deliver lectures on April 8 in the USA and therefore, it would be appropriate and in the interest of justice that whilst the present application is decided, this Court in the interim directs the respondents to suspend the LOC so that the applicant can travel to the USA for the pre-arranged program. Copy of the Invitation from various institutions based out of the USA.
Journalist and human rights activist Aakar Anil Patel on Wednesday stopped at the Bengaluru airport and was prevented from boarding a flight to the United States.
Patel said that he was prevented from travelling to the US despite a Gujarat court order granting him permission "specifically" for the said trip.
The former chief of Amnesty International India took to his Twitter account, which is not verified, to tweet: "Stopped from leaving India at Bangalore airport. Am on the exit control list. Got passport back through court order specifically for this trip to the US."
Patel also shared a copy of his application for the passport to the court and tagged Prime Minister's Office. The Gujarat court's ruling shared by Patel showed that the judge had ordered his passport to be returned and allowed him to travel to the US between March 1 and May 30.
"CBI officer called to say I am on the Look-Out Circular because of the case Modi government has filed against Amnesty International India," Patel tweeted.
Notably, in September 2020, Patel was booked under Sections 153 A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence), 295 A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings), spreading fake message with intent to incite, any class or community of persons to commit any offence against any other class or community under 505 (1) B, 505 (1) C, Defamation under Sections 499, and 500 of the Indian Penal Code for three of his tweets against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and Ghanchi caste.
In June 2020, an FIR was registered against Patel under Sections 117 (abetting commission of an offence by the public or by more than ten persons), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), and 505-1-B (intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at the JC Nagar police station over his controversial comments on social media under charges pertaining to provocation with intent to cause riots. (ANI)