The Gauhati High Court has agreed to hear the National Investigation Agency’s appeal against a lower court verdict that cleared peasants’ rights activist and Assam MLA Akhil Gogoi in an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act case related to anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests, Live Law reported on Thursday.
Justices N Kotiswar Singh and Soumitra Saikia on Wednesday issued a notice to Gogoi, directing him to appear before the court in three weeks, according to The Times of India.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, 2019, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act, widely criticised for excluding Muslims, triggered countrywide protests.
Gogoi was in jail for more than 18 months since December 2019 for leading a protest against the Act outside the deputy commissioner’s office Assam’s Jorhat city. The NIA accused him of waging a war against the country, conspiracy and rioting.
Twelve cases were filed against him across Assam after violence broke out during the protests. Of these, the NIA took over two cases registered in Chandmari and Chabua in 2020. The investigation agency added UAPA charges to the cases.
While acquitting Gogoi in the second case, Special NIA judge Pranjal Das noted that there was no evidence to link him with the vandalism that took place during the protests, according to Live Law.
“Protests in a democracy are sometimes seen to take the form of blockades also, even causing inconvenience to citizens,” the judge said. “However, it is doubtful whether such blockades for temporary periods, if unaccompanied by any incitement to violence, would constitute a terrorist act within the meaning of Section 15 of the UA (P) Act. That in my mind, is beyond the intention of the legislature.”
On July 6, the NIA approached the Gauhati High Court challenging the July 1 order.