A Delhi court on Wednesday, 6 April, directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to submit a response on a plea filed by former Amnesty International India chair Aakar Patel, Bar and Bench reported.
The court reportedly remarked that public servants had to justify their actions, which couldn't be based on their “whims and fancies”.
The central agency will reportedly submit its reply by Thursday, 7 April.
Hours after he was stopped at the Bengaluru airport, Aakar Patel moved a Delhi court seeking directions to the CBI for the withdrawal of the Look Out Circular against him.
Patel's counsel, Advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir submitted that the Amnesty chair was not made aware of the LOC until later, and previously, the court had allowed him to travel abroad.
Patel on Wednesday also sought permission to travel to the United States till 30 May 2022.
What Had Happened
Patel had been stopped from leaving India at the Bengaluru Airport on Wednesday morning after a Look Out Circular (LOC) was issued against him by the CBI.
"CBI officer called to say I am on the Look-Out Circular because of the case Modi govt has filed against Amnesty International India," Patel had tweeted shortly after he was halted. Stating that he had been put on the exit control list, he said, "Got passport back through court order specifically for this trip to the US."
"Immigration says CBI has put me on the list why @PMOIndia," Patel had said in a tweet, tagging the prime minister's office.
Amnesty Demands Immediate Lifting of Travel Ban on Patel
"Indian authorities must immediately lift the arbitrary travel ban imposed on Indian human rights activist and Chair of Amnesty International India Board Aakar Patel," Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
"On Wednesday, Aakar Patel was on his way to attend multiple conferences on the use of social media for social and political change and the attacks on the civil society in India organized by the University of Michigan, University of Berkeley, and New York University in the United States of America. Immigration authorities at the Bangalore Airport prevented him from leaving the country despite a judicial order permitting him to travel outside India for his speaking engagements."Amnesty International
“Denying Aakar’s right to freedom of movement to prevent him from exercising his freedom of expression is an alarming manifestation of the Indian government’s mounting crackdown on human rights defenders and activists. Operating in a climate of harassment, intimidation, interference and constant surveillance is unacceptable, but has unfortunately become routine for human rights activists in India,” said Kyle Ward, Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International.
What Is the Case Against Amnesty India? And Was Patel Given Permission To Travel Abroad?
The CBI had previously filed a case against Amnesty International over alleged irregularities in foreign funding in connection with violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in 2019.
Officials said the CBI registered the case on 5 November 2021, following a complaint lodged by the Home Ministry for alleged violation of the provision of the FCRA, 2010 and the Indian Penal Code.
Patel had also shared on Twitter images of the earlier court order granting him permission to travel abroad till 30 May upon the deposit of an amount of Rs 2 lakh.
The CBI, in November, had conducted raids at the Amnesty International India’s Bengaluru and Delhi offices.
The raid had come after the ED issued a show-cause to it for “violation of the foreign exchange law to the tune of over Rs 51 crore,” officials said.
The case was registered against Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd (AIIPL), Indians For Amnesty International Trust (IAIT), Amnesty International India Foundation Trust (AIIFT), Amnesty International South Asia Foundation (AISAF) and others.