Special CBI court directs Aakar Patel not to leave India without prior permission

The CBI court also stayed the part of the trial court’s order that directed the CBI to write a written apology to Aakar Patel for stopping him from flying out of the country.
File image of Aakar Patel
File image of Aakar Patel
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A CBI court in Delhi has asked Aakar Patel, the former chief of Amnesty International India, not to leave the country without the court’s permission. The court has also stayed the order passed by the trial court directing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to write a written apology to Aakar for stopping him from flying out of Bengaluru airport. The court was hearing a review petition filed by the CBI, against the observations made by the trial court directing quashing of the CBI’s lookout circular against Aakar. 

Special CBI Judge Santosh Snehi Mann stayed the operation of part of the order which directed the CBI to apologise to Akaar. The CBI had sought an urgent hearing on the grounds that the trial court had ordered compliance of its order by Friday at 4 pm. The CBI counsel submitted to the court that Aakar tried to leave the country yesterday and that they had not been given a chance to challenge the order. 

After hearing submissions, the court stayed the part of the trial court order that directed the CBI Director to write a written apology to Aakar. The court has also restricted Aakar from leaving the country without taking prior permission from it. The court will continue hearing this case on April 12, Tuesday.  

Meanwhile, Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court is scheduled to hear a contempt plea filed by Aakar Patel after immigration officials stopped him from flying out to the US for the second time this week. This comes even after the Delhi court told the Central Bureau of Investigation to withdraw the lookout notice issued against Patel. Aakar was scheduled to fly to the USA to deliver lectures in three universities — Michigan University, Berkeley University and New York University. Aakar tweeted that he will be joining the Michigan University event online. 

Earlier in the day, Aakar’s counsel advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir told the Rouse Avenue Court that his client had to suffer a loss of Rs 6 lakh after he was stopped by the authorities again, who said that they had not received any written communication from the CBI about allowing him to travel. He submitted that from the airport, they tried to contact the investigating officer of the CBI, but the latter had ‘deliberately’ switched off his phone. “This is  a blatant, atrocious, unpardonable act of contempt,” he told the court. “​​The CBI does not respect any order of court. Being a law enforcement agency, how dare you switch off your mobile?”

Aakar had filed a contempt petition before the court against the investigating officer of the case of alleged violation of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act for non compliance of the court's order passed on Thursday. Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pawan Kumar on Thursday passed the order and directed the probe agency to withdraw the LOC immediately, apologise to him and file a compliance report by April 30.

Patel's counsel claimed that he was stopped again on Thursday night at an airport and was informed that the CBI had not withdrawn the LOC. The court had noted that apart from the monetary loss, the applicant had suffered mental harassment as he was not allowed to undertake his visit on the scheduled time. The applicant can approach the court or other forum for the monetary compensation. 

“This court is of the considered opinion that in this case, a written apology from the head of the CBI ie. Director, CBI acknowledging the lapse on the part of his subordinate, to the applicant 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,” the judge had said.

Patel's application had further sought the court's permission to visit the US to take up his foreign assignment and lecture series organised by various universities till May 30. Patel had said that he was stopped by immigration authorities at Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport on Wednesday while he was boarding a flight to the US, despite an order by a Gujarat court granting him permission to travel abroad

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