Aakar Patel 'Stopped at Immigration Again', Sues CBI for Contempt of Court

The investigating officer was unreachable when Patel was at the airport, he said, thus not abiding by the court order that he be allowed to travel.

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New Delhi: Despite a Delhi court ruling in his favour and even asking the Central Bureau of Investigation to apologise for issuing a lookout notice in his name to stop him from travelling, author and former head of Amnesty International India Aakar Patel was once again stopped from leaving the country on Thursday night.

“Have been stopped at immigration again. cbi has not taken me off their look out circular,” Patel tweeted on Thursday night. “immigration at bangalore airport says nobody at cbi answering their calls.”

On Friday, Patel filed a contempt of court case against the CBI. The investigating officer was unreachable when Patel was at the airport, he said, thus not abiding by the court order that he be allowed to travel.

“That it is far from believable that an agency like CBI which is supposed to be available twenty four seven, being a law enforcement agency conveniently chose to sleep on the order of the Hon’ble Court despite the word “immediately” used by the Hon’ble Court and being aware of the fact that the applicant was travelling at night on 07.04.2022,” his petition said.

The non-availability of the investigating officer despite the order “leaves no manner of doubt that Respondent agency deliberately and wilfully decided to not give effect to the order dated 07.04.2022 passed by this Hon’ble Court,” it continued.

Patel had earlier approached the court after he was not allowed to leave the country despite having a valid US visa on Wednesday. He said he was never informed of a lookout circular, and did not even know which case it pertained to when he was stopped at the airport. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pawan Kumar issued notice to the CBI and heard the case on Thursday.

In an interview to The Wire, Patel said that he believes what happened on Wednesday is probably connected to his recent book The Price of the Modi Years, which critically analyses Narendra Modi’s prime ministership.

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. The case reportedly pertains to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) case against the Amnesty International.

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.

However, the judge said if that were indeed the case and he was a flight risk, Patel should have been arrested. The court asked the CBI to issue a written apology to Patel, withdraw the lookout circular issued against him immediately and file a compliance report by 4 pm on Friday.

Officers of the CBI reportedly told NDTV that they will be challenging the relief granted to Patel.

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.