A day after a Delhi court directed the CBI to withdraw a Look Out Circular (LOC) issued against former Amnesty International India Chief Aakar Patel and tender a written apology in order to “heal his wounds”, the investigating agency was granted interim relief after it moved a revision petition against the order on Friday.
The order was passed by Special CBI judge Santosh Snehi Mann who directed Mr. Patel to not leave the country without the court’s permission. The next date of the hearing has been posted to April 14 and a response has been sought from Mr. Patel by the court.
Staying the direction passed on Thursday by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pawan Kumar, the Special CBI judge orally noted: “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 court further observed that it was necessary that due opportunity be given to the CBI to file a formal response in the matter. “In the meantime, it is necessary that the cause is not frustrated,” the order observed.
During the course of the proceedings, Advocate Nikhil Goel argued that just because one had not been arrested, it could not be said that no LOC could be issued against them as it was “against the basic purpose of issuing an LOC”. “We are dealing with a situation where there is a gap between the end of investigation and beginning of proceedings before the court,” he submitted.
‘Probe not biased’
CBI’s counsel further argued that the agency’s investigation was not biased and that they (CBI) had been fair in its probe. “Court has not even applied mind, proceedings before court have not begun, that stage has not come,” he stated.
Mr. Patel tried to leave the country twice without giving the agency any opportunity to approach the court, he noted.
However, advocate Tanvir Ahmed Mir, appearing for Mr. Patel, argued that the investigating officer was well aware that Mr. Patel had to leave for the U.S. by midnight and the court’s order clearly stated that the CBI should inform the immigration authorities about the same.
In a separate case, Mr. Patel filed a contempt plea before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Dharmender Singh over non-compliance of the order directing the CBI to withdraw the LOC against him. The court has issued notice to the CBI in the matter and it will be heard on April 13.
On April 6, Mr. Patel was stopped by the immigration authorities at the Bangalore International Airport while boarding a U.S.-bound flight, citing the LOC issued by the CBI against Amnesty International India in an FCRA case.
The court earlier noted that there cannot be any unfettered control or restriction on the right to travel and that the CBI Director should issue Mr. Patel a written apology.