While granting bail to activist Akhil Gogoi in three cases registered over alleged violence in protests against Citizenship Amendment Act 2019, the Gauhati High Court ordered that he should not indulge in "any activities or protest".
The order passed by Justice Manash Ranjan Pathak stated :
"Pending investigation and trial of said cases, the petitioner shall not indulge in any activities or protest, shall not give any provocative or instigating speech/lecture, shall not communicate provocative or instigating messages in any platform, medial etc., that results in blocking of any public or private road, rail etc., affecting/hampering the commuters in their peaceful movement and in violent incident or damage to the public property thereby threatens peace, tranquility and harmony of the public of the society".
Despite the grant of bail in these cases, he will remain in custody for the cases being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The 3 FIRs, registered at Chabua police station in Dibrugarh district in the state, were under Sections 147 (rioting), 148 (Rioting, armed with deadly weapon.), 336 (Act endangering life or personal safety of others), 436 (Mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc), 427 (Mischief causing loss or damage) of the IPC, with added Sections 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), and 153B ( Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) of the IPC, read with Section 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Damages to Public Property Act, 1984, and with Section 15(1)(a) and 16 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
In connection to these cases, Gogoi was shown to be arrested on May 28, while he was already under custody in relation to cases registered by NIA.
Before the judge, it was urged on behalf of the petitioner that while in custody, he suffered from COVID-19 pandemic and is presently under medical treatment.
Gogoi's counsel submitted that as he had taken active part in the agitation pertaining to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). He was arrested on 13.12.2019 and thereafter shown to have been arrested on subsequent dates in numbers of cases relating to the movement against the said CAB and CAA that were registered in different places of the State and thereby detained him in custody for long in those cases without any basis, violating his rights.
"From the petition itself, it is submitted that while the petitioner was at Jorhat on 11.12.2019, and participated in the agitation in a peaceful protest, he was detained by Jorhat police on 12.12.2019 and was arrested on 13.12.2019, in which case he was granted bail by the learned CJM, Jorhat on 26.12.2019. Thereafter, the petitioner was arrested by the National Investigating Agency under Sections 120B/124A/153A/153B of the IPC", noted the Single Judge.
It was also brought to the notice of the Court that the petitioner was arrested in connection with the FIR lodged on similar charges on 05.12.2019 and that another Bench of this Court by order dated 26.03.2020 granted him bail in the said Crime Branch Case. Further, the petitioner was shown arrested on 28.03.2020 on similar charges and a Bench of this Court by order dated 18.05.2020 released him on bail. Moreover, he was again shown to be arrested on 22.04.2020 and the Court by order dated 01.06.2020 granted him bail.
On the other hand, the Additional Public Prosecutor submitted that the agitation against CAB was going on peacefully until the arrival of Chabua. Gogoi gave an inciting speech which resulted in the protest turning violent, alleged the prosecution.
It was further alleged that the violence led to the vandalizing of Chabua Branch of United Bank of India and the office of the Chabua Revenue Circle.
While granting bail, the Single Bench noted that the matter relating to amendment of the Citizenship Act is presently pending before the Apex Court of India.
The bench also appreciated that the petitioner, while seeking bail in another case, made a clear statement that during the pendency of the trial of the case he will not indulge in activities or protest which might result in violent incident or damage to public property and that considering such statement of the petitioner and other circumventing factors, he was released on bail with heavy surety by the Court by its order dated 26.03.2020.
"In the said order dated 26.03.2020, the Court also observed that the petitioner at any point of time during the investigation and trial intimidates or influences or approaches any witness of the incident, the prosecution would be at liberty to seek cancellation of bail and that the petitioner shall not delay the process of investigation or trial", the Single Judge observed.
The bench also reflected that for the similar offences against the petitioner for his participation in the movement against CAB and CAA, the Court has already granted bail to him, as indicated above.
"After considering the entire aspect of the matter, the Court is of the view that the petitioner namely, Sri Akhil Gogoi shall not be required for his further custodial interrogation for investigation and therefore, this bail application of the petitioner is accepted", reads the order
Accordingly, Gogoi was released on bail in each of the three cases on furnishing bail bonds of Rs. 50,000/- with two local sureties of the like amount to the satisfaction of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Dibrugarh.
The other bail conditions are :
(ii) Petitioner shall appear before the Investigating Officer as and when he is required for necessary investigation of the said cases;
(iii) Petitioner shall not leave the territorial jurisdiction of the Chabua police station, without obtaining prior written permission from the concerned Investigating Officer of the case;
(iv) Petitioner shall not hamper with the investigation, or tamper with the evidence of the case and
(v) Petitioner shall not, directly or indirectly, make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade them from disclosing such facts to the Court or to any police officer.
"Failing any of the grounds noted above, the bail granted to the petitioner, named above, in the aforesaid Chabua Police Station Case shall stand automatically vacated", clarified Justice Pathak.
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