Aakar Patel Case: Special CBI Court Stays ACMM Order

New Delhi: Special CBI Court has stayed the ACMM Order with respect to the observations, where CBI director was asked to apologize to former Amnesty International Chief, Aakar Patel.

Special CBI Judge Santosh Snehi Mann directed Patel not to leave the country without permission of the Court. Advocate Nikhil Goel appearing for the agency had submitted that no time was given to them to challenge the order.

“There has to be a reasonable time to a party, who feels that the order isn’t favourable to approach the authority. The remedy is there,” the Judge opined during the hearing.

Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court had ordered the Central Bureau of Intelligence (CBI) to withdraw the lookout notice issued against Aakar Patel. CBI’s Director was asked to give a written apology, acknowledging the lapse on part of his subordinate to the application would go a long way in not only healing the wounds of the applicant but also upholding the trust and confidence of the public in the premier institution.

“Stay operation of impugned order vis a vis direction to CBI director for compliance wrt observations made in the later part of the order specially wrt written apology,” the Court ordered today.

The matter will now be taken up by the court again on April 12.

“It is necessary that due opportunity be given to file formal reply if any. In the meantime, it is necessary that the cause is not frustrated,” the Court said while granting interim relief to the agency.

While granting interim relief to the agency, the court said, “It is necessary that due opportunity be given to file formal reply if any. In the meantime, it is necessary that the cause is not frustrated.”

In the court, Goel argued that the right to LOC was interpreted. He also said that the Court had made certain remarks regarding the functioning of the agency which should be quashed. 

He argued that the judge seems to suggest that if the accused isn’t arrested during investigation, LOC cannot be issued. However, it is CBI’s case that “subjective assessment” of the IO, which led to opening of the LOC, cannot be determined or interfered with. “To say that because I haven’t arrested somebody and that no LOC can be issued is against the basic purpose of issuing an LOC. We are dealing with a situation where there is a gap between end of investigation and beginning of proceedings before the court.”

However, yesterday night Patel was stopped again from travelling to the United States at the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru.

In the contempt plea, Patel has said that the investigating officer of the case, Himanshu Bahuguna, was present in the court at the time of pronouncement of the order and was in no unequivocal terms directed by the Court to immediately withdraw the lookout notice. He was also informed that Patel wants to board the 12:30 AM flight in the on Thursday night in order to make himself available for the scheduled lecture at University of Michigan.

Patel was again stopped by the immigration check at the Bengaluru International Airport in the link with same lookout notice, and in derogation of the Court’s order, instead of cooperating with the immigration and being available for compliance, the IO switched off his mobile phone.

The plea state, “The act of the Investigating Officer in switching off his mobile phone speaks volumes about the intention of the Respondent agency in bulldozing the valuable fundamental rights of the applicant…(he) most cleverly decided to switch off his mobile phone with a clear intention and successful attempt to thwart and strangulate the valuable rights of the Petitioner.”

The court also noted that Patel had suffered loss of around Rs. 3.8 lakhs, as he missed his flights due to the lookout notice. Now, Patel claims to have suffered a further loss of Rs. 5.6 lakh.

On the remarks made by the Court on CBI’s conduct, Goel said, “We have been fair in investigation. We have filed chargesheet. There was no material to say that someone was biased without which the finding shouldn’t have come…to say that we did it deliberately, because in CrPC there are provisions. Court has not even applied mind, proceedings before court have not begun, that stage has not come.”

On money loss, the CBI submitted that Aakar’s travel was being sponsored by Universities which invited him.

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