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Aakar Patel can't fly out without court permission

Aakar Patel cant fly out without court permission

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Friday directed the chair of Amnesty International India Board Aakar Patel not to leave the country without its prior permission and stayed an order directing the CBI to withdraw a Look Out Circular (LOC) issued against him in a case relating to the alleged violation of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA).

Special Judge Santosh Snehi Mann passed the order on a petition filed by the CBI seeking revision of the order passed on Thursday by a magisterial court which also asked the agency to apologise to Patel. The judge said it was necessary that due opportunity was given to Patel to file a formal reply if any to CBI's revision application.

"In the meantime, it is necessary that the cause is not frustrated. During the course of arguments, it was pointed out by Nikhil Goel (advocate for the CBI) that respondent made an attempt to leave the country yesterday," the court said.

It stayed the operation of the order passed by the trial court on Thursday regarding the direction to the CBI director for compliance with regards to the observations made in the order regarding "written apology."

In the order, the court said this is also with regard to the condition that respondent (Patel) will not leave the country without the permission of this court. Put up for reply and arguments next week. The court posted the matter for further proceedings on April 12.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Pawan Kumar on Thursday passed the order and directed the probe agency to withdraw the LOC immediately, apologise to the activist and file a compliance report by April 30.

Hours after this order, Patel tried to leave the country to attend his scheduled event but was stopped again last night at the airport and was informed that the CBI had not withdrawn the LOC. Following this, Patel was quick to move a contempt petition in Delhi against the CBI for not withdrawing the LOC despite court orders.

But the CBI was also quick to the button and filed the revision petition first thing on Friday, on which the agency got a favourable order. The agency had argued that ACMM Pawan Kumar had incorrectly assumed that an LOC cannot be issued against an accused, if they had not been arrested during the investigation.

On Friday, while Special Judge Mann gave interim relief to the agency and restricted Patel from flying out without the court's permission, Patel's contempt plea was also heard in the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Dharmendra Kumar, where the matter was adjourned to April 13 - after the April 12 hearing before Special Judge Mann.

Senior advocate Tanveer Ahmed Mir, representing Patel, told ACMM Kumar that they should wait for the Special Judge's order on April 12 and that if the order does not interfere with the direction to withdraw the LOC, then the CBI "will be in for contempt".

The court agreed that it would be best to wait for progress in CBI's plea before Special Judge Mann and asked the agency to file a reply to Patel's petition, posting the matter for April 13.

On Thursday, while directing the CBI to withdraw the LOC against Patel, the court had allowed the activist to approach court or any other forum for the monetary loss he had suffered. On Friday, when this matter came up, the CBI had argued that Patel had not suffered any loss because his travel was being sponsored by the universities and institutes, whose events he was to attend.

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