Anti-CAA protests: UAPA case reopened against Assam MLA Akhil Gogoi
The case against him was dismissed in 2021, but earlier this month the Gauhati High Court allowed the National Investigation Agency to frame charges again.
A National Investigation Agency court on Thursday reopened a case filed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against Assam MLA Akhil Gogoi and his three associates for holding anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in December 2019, reported PTI.
The development came after the Gauhati High Court on February 9 allowed the National Investigation Agency to frame charges against the four accused persons in the case. The High Court had passed the order after the investigating agency had challenged a NIA court order passed in 2021 dismissing the charges against Gogoi.
The independent MLA from Sibsagar constituency and three others – Dhirjya Konwar, Manas Konwar, and Bittu Sonowal – had been booked by the National Investigation Agency on charges of sedition and under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in 2019.
At Thursday’s hearing, Gogoi’s advocate told the special NIA court that the Supreme Court had granted interim protection to the politician from arrest till February 24. Special NIA Judge Pranjal Das deferred the hearing and listed the case on February 28, reported PTI.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had asked the National Investigating Agency to not take Gogoi into custody till Friday. The top court had also sought response from the National Investigation Agency in connection to an appeal filed by Gogoi against the Gauhati High Court’s decision to set aside the 2021 discharge order, reported Live Law.
NIA case against Gogoi
On December 12, 2019, Gogoi was placed under preventive custody after his protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The National Investigation Agency had said that Gogoi was booked for “waging a war against the nation”, conspiracy and rioting.
He was booked under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different communities), and 153B (making imputations and assertions prejudicial to national integration) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. He was also booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
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. It has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. The Act sparked huge protests across the country.
On July 1, 2021, the politician was released from jail after one and a half years after the special court had noted that his speeches do not amount to any incitement to violence.
“Protests in a democracy are sometimes seen to take the form of blockades and even causing inconvenience to citizens,” the special court had noted. “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. This is beyond the intention of the legislature. There can be other laws to address that.”