Amnesty International India chair Aakar Patel has sufficient contacts outside India and is actively connected with the human rights organisation, the Central Bureau of Investigation told a Delhi court on Wednesday, reported Live Law.

The central agency made the statement in a written submission to a special CBI court while justifying its decision to issue a look-out notice against Patel. The court is hearing the Central Bureau of Investigation’s plea challenging a magistrate court’s April 7 order that had asked the agency to withdraw the look-out circular against Patel.

The former Amnesty International India head had moved the magistrate court after he was stopped from travelling to the United States on April 6. Patel had tweeted that a Central Bureau of Investigation officer told him that the look-out notice has been issued against him because of the case filed by the Narendra Modi government against Amnesty International India.

The human rights organisation has been accused of money laundering under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

In its submission, the central agency said that the look-out notice was issued because there was a time gap between completing the investigation and taking cognisance of the matter by a court due to a bar under Section 40 of the FCRA.

The section states that a court cannot take cognisance of any offence under the Act without receiving a sanction from the central government.

The central agency had told the court on Tuesday that it has got approval to prosecute Patel.

“These factors coupled with the fact that the respondent [Aakar Patel] made an immediate attempt to leave the country on 8/4/2022 ought to be treated as enough to show that the subjective satisfaction [to issue the look-out notice] could not have been said to be illusory,” the central agency said in its written submission on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Special CBI court Judge Santosh Snehi Mann said she will pronounce the verdict on the agency’s petition on Saturday, reported PTI. Mann also extended the stay on the April 7 order till it decides on the petition.

The judge said that she cannot pronounce the verdict as she needed time to go through the central agency’s submission.

Look-out notice against Patel

Following the magistrate court’s order, Patel had tried to travel abroad on April 7 but he was stopped as the Central Bureau of Investigation had not withdrawn the look-out circular.

A day later, he filed a separate plea in a Delhi court, seeking action against central agency’s investigation officer for not complying with the magistrate order.

At the same time, the central agency filed the revision plea against the magistrate order. After this, Mann had directed Patel not to leave the country without the court’s permission. The judge also stayed the order asking the central agency to withdraw the look-out notice.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the court said the stay order will continue till it takes a decision on the central agency’s plea.

Also read:

How Modi government misuses look-out circulars to target critics like Rana Ayyub and Aakar Patel

Case against Amnesty

The Central Bureau of Investigation has said that the Amnesty International India Foundation Trust was given permission during 2011-’12 for receiving foreign contributions from the Amnesty International-United Kingdom. However, the permission was cancelled following adverse inputs from the security agencies.

The agency alleged that the Indians for Amnesty International Trust and the Amnesty International India Private Limited were then formed in 2012-’13 and 2013-’14 to “escape the FCRA [Foreign Contribution Regulation Act] route”.

In September 2020, the human rights organisation said it was forced to shut its operations as the Indian government had frozen its bank accounts. The group had said its “lawful fundraising model” was being portrayed as money laundering because Amnesty India had challenged the “government’s grave inactions and excesses”.

The Centre had described the allegations unfortunate, exaggerated and “far from the truth”. Amnesty’s “glossy statements” about humanitarian work and speaking truth to power were nothing but a “ploy to divert attention” from their activities, which were in “clear contravention” of Indian laws, the government had said.