16 April 2022 11:01 AM GMT
A Delhi Court on Saturday upheld the Trial Court (ACMM) order which directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to immediately withdraw the Look Out Circular issued by it against former Amnesty International India Chief Aakar Patel. Special CBI Judge Santosh Snehi Mann of Rouse Avenue Court however set aside the direction for the CBI Director to make a written apology to Patel for...
A Delhi Court on Saturday upheld the Trial Court (ACMM) order which directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to immediately withdraw the Look Out Circular issued by it against former Amnesty International India Chief Aakar Patel.
Special CBI Judge Santosh Snehi Mann of Rouse Avenue Court however set aside the direction for the CBI Director to make a written apology to Patel for the agency's "deliberate" actions. The direction given to fix accountability of the CBI officials for issuance of LOC is also set-aside.
The Court upheld the impugned order subject to two conditions:
- Aakar Patel will appear before Trial Court within a week, shall furnish a bond for his appearance under sec. 88 CrPC to the satisfaction of Trial Court.
- He will will not leave country without permission of Trial Court.
"In this case, the manner in which LOC has been issued by the CBI shows lack of understanding of the relevant law, and hence need for orientation of the concerned officers of CBI, not only for sensitization but also to bring objectivity in the actions, is not out of context. These observations of the Trial Court are not of the nature of exercising power of superintendence, they are out of concern and the petitioner is expected to take them in the right spirit," the Court observed.
It added that the power of CBI to investigate and prosecute is not an unbridled power and that in glaring cases of excesses committed in actions, there may arise the need for fixing accountability.
"In the present case, LOC was issued on wrong interpretation and understanding of law, and not out of any malice or ill will. Hence, it is not a fit case to call for fixing the accountability for issuance of LOC," the Court said.
The Court said that since determination of the compensation was not a subject matter before the Trial Court, there was no scope to venture into the aspect of "Mental Harassment".
"Therefore direction of the Trial Court to the Director, CBI to give written apology to the respondent accused, acknowledging the lapse on the part of his subordinate, to compensate for mental harassment, cannot sustain and is liable to be set-aside," the Court ordered.
The Judge had earlier stayed the operation of the order passed by the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate which also ordered the CBI Director to make a written apology to Patel for the agency's "deliberate" actions.
Last week, the Judge had directed Patel not to leave the country without its permission.
Case so far
Patel was stopped from boarding a flight to the US at Bengaluru airport last week, on April 7. He claims that the impugned action was taken despite a Gujarat court's order granting him permission "specifically for this trip".
He is being prosecuted before the court of Sixth Additional District & Sessions Judge Surat, Gujarat in a private complaint lodged by a BJP legislator in Gujarat by the name of Purneshbhai Ishwarbhai Modi. Vide order dated February 19, the Court permitted him to travel abroad and accordingly his passport was released for a period March 3 to May 30, 2022.
The CBI stopped him from leaving the country on the basis of a Look Out Notice issued in connection with a case registered by the agency against Amnesty International India for alleged FCRA violations.
Later on the same day (April 7), he approached the Court aginst the LOC. In the order delivered on the same day, the Trial Court, in its 10-page order, the Trial Court had said that there cannot be any unfettered control/restriction on the right to travel and it is the part of fundamental rights and enshrined under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution. It found that the issuance of LOC was a "deliberate act" of the investigating agency to put restriction on the valuable rights of the accused.
"In this case, a written apology from head of CBI i.e. Director, CBI acknowledging lapse on part of his subordinate, to applicant would go a long way in not only healing wounds of applicant but also upholding trust and confidence of the public in the premier institution...A copy of the order be accordingly sent to Worthy Director, CBI for ensuring compliance. It is expected that this court shall be duly apprised about the compliance of the order," it had said.
The Court had also noted that Patel suffered monetary loss of around Rs.3.8 lac to Patel as he has missed his flight because of the LOC. He was granted liberty to approach the Court or other forum for the compensation. Later, Patel claimed to have suffered a further loss of Rs. 5.6 lakh and had moved a contempt petition against the CBI alleging that he was stopped again at the airport despite the Trial Court's order.
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