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Law

Gauhati High Court Stays Peasant Leader Akhil Gogoi's Default Bail

Gogoi had been under police custody since mid-December under charges of being a ‘Maoist’ until a special NIA court on March 17 had granted him bail by default.

Guwahati: The Gauhati high court on Tuesday, April 7, issued an interim stay order on the default bail which was granted to peasant leader Akhil Gogoi and founder-secretary of the Assam-based peasant organisation Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) in the National Investigation Agency (NIA)-related case that charged him of being a ‘Maoist’.

Gogoi had been under police custody since mid-December in connection with this case until a special NIA court on March 17 had granted him a default bail.

The court in the order also said that the matter should be placed before the Chief Justice for constituting a larger bench to adjudicate on the legal issues.

In view of the nationwide lockdown on account of the spread of the coronavirus, the court proceedings were conducted through a virtual court to maintain social distancing.

In March, the NIA had failed to file a chargesheet within 90 days of Gogoi’s arrest, and, on March 16, had sought an extension of another 90 days to file a chargesheet against Gogoi. But the special NIA court rejected the NIA’s petition.

Immediately after Gogoi’s was granted bail by default, in March the NIA moved the Gauhati high court, challenging the special NIA court’s rejection. While the high court admitted the case, it did not pass any stay order on it back then.

A legal member of Gogoi’s counsel told The Wire, “We have not yet decided whether to challenge the interim stay order as the matter will be heard on a later date most probably after April 20.”

Also read: The Travails and Scuffles That Marked Akhil Gogoi’s Rise in Politics

In the interim stay order which was passed by the Gauhati high court on Tuesday, April 7, the court said that based on the arguments of the statements of the protected witnesses which have been recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr PC), “indicate serious implication on the security of the country itself and since it is the case of the prosecuting agency that respondent (Gogoi) is one of the main players in such disruption, the respondent is required to be confronted with those statements to extract the truth.”

“It has been argued that some persons were sent to Odisha for Maoist training and for guerrilla warfare etc. as per statements of the witnesses. The respondent is required to be confronted with all those facts to extract the truth. In case police remand is denied to the investigating agency, the investigation shall be derailed and frustrated,” a portion of the order reads out.

The interim stay order also mentions that the counsel for the appellant argued that since the investigation is in progress and some of the evidence collected required verification, Gogoi is ‘required to be confronted with those matters.”

It further said that the “counsel argued that an application was filed on 30th January 2020 for collecting voice sample of the respondent-accused for its comparison with the recordings taken in the course of the investigation. While the application has not been decided, right to an investigation by the NIA has been taken away by virtue of the impugned order. For the said purpose, remand of the accused respondent is required.”

The court has directed the trial court to take a decision on the application filed on behalf of the investigating agency for taking a voice sample of the respondent Akhil Gogoi.