Delhi Court Asks CBI to Apologise to Aakar Patel, Withdraw Lookout Circular

A CBI court has, in the immediate aftermath of the verdict, directed the CBI to drop the airport alert against Patel.

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New Delhi: A Delhi court has asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to issue a written apology to Aakar Patel, withdraw the lookout circular issued against him immediately and file a compliance report by 4 pm tomorrow.

A CBI court has, in the immediate aftermath of the verdict, directed the CBI to drop the airport alert against Patel immediately.

The former head of Amnesty International India was stopped from leaving the country at the Bengaluru airport on April 6 citing a lookout circular issued against him by the CBI. Patel has alleged that he was not aware of the circular against him or to which case it pertained to.

He told The Wire that a CBI official told him that he had been intentionally kept in the dark on the notice.

He moved a Delhi court on the same day, seeking permission to travel to the US until the end of May this year. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pawan Kumar issued notice to the CBI and heard the case today.

He will now be allowed to travel out of the country.

Patel was represented by advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir, along with Vaibhav Suri and Saud Khan.

Bar and Bench and LiveLaw have reported how the court sought to know the details of the lookout circular from the CBI, which the latter said was opened following a request of the Ministry of Home Affairs on December 31.

CBI held that Patel was “an influential person”, Rs 26 crores was involved – presumably in connection with a case against Amnesty International – and there was a chance he would flee.

The Delhi court asked why Patel was not arrested or surety not secured by CBI during the investigation against him if he was a flight risk.

A Surat District and Sessions Court had earlier granted Patel permission to use his own passport from March 1 to May 30 and visit the US.

The CBI’s argument that it does not have to offer detailed reasons and used a pre-formatted notice was countered by advocated Mir, who asked in what grounds Patel was considered an exception.

The CBI also claimed that there is no provision to inform an accused of a lookout notice against him.

“Citizens rights can’t be railroaded like this. It is time that we send a suitable reply to the law enforcement agencies and society,” Mir said.

Patel, through his lawyer, also said that the bar on him travelling was in violation of not only his fundamental rights under Articles 19 and 21, but also that the investigating officer’s move to open the lookout circular is “a blatant violation of court, procedure, ethics, morality and legal obligation as a public officer and a police officer”.

As he also told The Wire, Patel requested the court to deduct the Rs 3.8 lakhs cost of the air ticket that he incurred, from the salary of the erring CBI officer.

Patel has said that he suspects that he was subject to such a sudden travel ban because his recent book is critical of the Narendra Modi government.

Advocate Mir also referred to journalist Rana Ayyub being stopped from travelling to the UK due to an eleventh hour summons directing her to appear before the Enforcement Directorate on April 1. The Delhi high court later allowed Ayyub to travel.