Delhi HC: Order CBI to revoke travel ban on Aakar Patel.
The denial of permission to travel abroad to former chairperson of Amnesty International India Aakar Patel was illegal and reprehensible. The Delhi High Court issued orders to CBI to withdraw the LOC issued against him in a case of violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
On Wednesday, the former chief of Amnesty International India was stopped from leaving the country at the Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport, while he was about to catch a flight to Boston in the United State Of America stating that a Look Out Circular was issued against him by the CBI. A Look Out Circular is issued by the authorities to ensure an individual who is named in a case or is wanted by the law enforcement agencies does not leave the country. This is the second time that Patel has been stopped by immigration authorities. Patel’s passport had earlier been impounded in connection with a case filed against him by a BJP MLA in Surat but he got his passport for this trip. When he was first stopped and told to him that ‘he could not go as the CBI had issued an LOC against him’. Aakar Patel has alleged that he was not aware of the circular against him. Furtherance of it, Patel filed a plea challenging the LOC.
The Delhi High Court, on Thursday, April 7 directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to withdraw the Look Out Circular (LOC) issued against the former chief of Amnesty International India, journalist and Human Right activist, Aakar Patel in a case related with the violation of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA). Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pawan Kumar of Rouse Avenue Court on Thursday said, ‘‘Considering the fact 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 the LOC issued against the accused immediately.’’
Court directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take the requisite actions and give the intimation to the concerned authority. The court also ordered to the CBI to file a compliance report by 4 pm on Friday, April 8. Court pointed that there was no reasonable ground for the issuance of LOC. And It should not only be issued merely on the basis of apprehensions arising out of whims of the investigating agency.
Aakar Patel’s counsels, Tanveer Ahmed Mir submitted that the rights provided to the citizens can’t be curtailed by any agency and it is time to send suitable reply to the law enforcement agencies and society. Patel’s application sought for the court’s permission to take up his foreign assignment and lecture series which has been scheduled by various universities (Michigan University, Berkley University and New York University) till May 30, in united State. Since Patel is an influential individual, the CBI had opposed patel’s application by stating that ‘We are not demanding arrest. We are only saying he should not cross the country’ because there is suspicion of fleeing from justice if allowed to cross the country.
The court said that, Patel was free to travel out of the country and asked issue a written apology from the Director of the CBI on the behalf of the lapse on the part of his subordinate to Patel, noting that it will go a long way in ‘‘not only healing wound of applicant but also upholding trust and confidence of the public in the premier institution’’. The court noticed that apart from the monetary loss, applicant Patel suffered mental harassment as he was not allowed to visit the event that was planned at the scheduled time. And said applicant can approach the court or other forum for monetary compensation.