A Delhi court today directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to recall the lookout circular (LoC) issued against former Amnesty India International head Aakar Patel and directed the Director of the probe agency to furnish a written apology acknowledging the lapse.
"This court is of the considered opinion that in this case, a written apology from the head of the CBI i.e Director, CBI acknowledging the lapse on the part of his subordinate, to the applicant will go a long way in not only healing wounds of the applicant, but also upholding the trust and confidence of the public in the premier institution, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pawan Kumar said.
CBI's act has resulted in Patel incurring a monetary loss of around Rs. 3.8 lakh, the court observed.
"In the case at hand, apart from the monetary loss, the applicant (Patel) suffered mental harassment as he was not allowed to visit on the scheduled time," the order read on Patel's request seeking monetary compensation. The court said he was at liberty to approach the appropriate forum for the same.
On Wednesday, immigration authorities at Bengaluru airport informed Patel that he was not allowed to fly to the United States of America (USA) on account of a lookout circular the CBI has issued against him. Patel was scheduled to deliver lectures at a couple of universities in the US and his plea requested permission to go to the USA till May 30.
The Delhi court's order today was in response to Patel's plea seeking to quash the LoC and permission to travel abroad.
The Delhi court reserved its arguments earlier today after hearing arguments in detail.
Patel was the former Executive Director of Amnesty International India until 2019 when it was forced to shut operations in the country after the Enforcement Directorate froze its accounts. The ED's step came a year after the CBI filed an FIR against the international human rights body on charges of alleged violations of the Foreign Contributions Regulations Act (FCRA).
LoC cannot be issued on whims and fancies of investigating agency
A day after Aakar Patel was prevented from flying abroad, a Delhi court on Thursday observed that the LoC issued against him was liable to be set aside. The court observed that LoC must be issued in exceptional circumstances and not on the basis of apprehensions arising out of the "whims and fancies of the investigating agency."
The court acknowledged that the CBI has the discretion to issue LoCs, but this discretion cannot be exercised arbitrarily without any justifiable reasons or grounds. It is further expected that the CBI director sensitizes its officials and accountability of the concerned officials, in this case, be fixed, the court added.
The court pointed out that the consequences on the rights of the affected person should have been foreseen before issuing the LoC. "The fundamental rights of the person cannot be curtailed without any procedure established by law," the court's order read.
Apparently, the LoC in the present case was issued in violation of Delhi High Court guidelines and the memorandum of procedure of the concerned ministry.
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