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Delhi HC seeks Aakar Patel's reply on CBI's plea against order on withdrawal of LOC

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Friday sought the response of Amnesty International India Board chair Aakar Patel on a plea by CBI challenging a trial court's order directing the withdrawal of a lookout circular issued against him in connection with a case for alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

Justice Yogesh Khanna issued notice to Patel on CBI's petition and listed the matter for May 18.

The CBI had told the high court that it was not against the relief granted to Patel and its grievance was directed towards the reasoning adopted by the trial court and apprehended that the same would be used against it in other cases.

While CBI was represented through Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, advocate Saud Khan appeared on behalf of Patel.

In its petition, the CBI has said that the trial court returned a finding that the investigating agency can take recourse to provisions of a LOC once an accused has absconded and such a view is plainly perverse .

In the plea, which has assailed several other legal findings for the trial court, the CBI has argued that the trial court as well as the magisterial court, completely misconstrued the scope and purpose of taking recourse to a Lookout Circular (LOC) notice.

lt is submitted that a Lookout circular notice is a lessor form of coercive action which an investigating agency can take to ensure that an accused is available to face the process of law. The order of the ACMM (Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate) suggested that a lessor coercive measure like the opening of a LOC should not be resorted to without arresting an accused is completely wrong, the petition stated.

The fact that even a bank or a financial institution can take recourse to this process of LOC even without an FIR is sufficient indication to suggest that reasoning of the courts below is completely erroneous, it added.

On April 16, the sessions court upheld an order passed by the ACMM directing the CBI to withdraw the lookout circular against Patel, saying the LOC is "bad in law" and "cannot sustain".

The sessions court, while setting aside the direction to the CBI director to give a written apology to Patel for "lapses" on the part of his subordinate, had directed Patel not to leave the country without the magisterial court's permission.

It had said that the LOC, which was issued in connection with a case for the alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, was issued on the wrong interpretation of the law and not out of any malice or ill will, "hence, it is not a fit case to call for fixing the accountability of issuance of LOC".

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