The Gauhati High Court has upheld the bail order of peasant activist Akhil Gogoi by a Special NIA Court in relation to his alleged role in violent protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Assam in 2019. Dismissing an appeal by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), a High Court bench comprising Justices Suman Shyam and Mir Alfaz Ali said any act aimed at creating civil disturbance will not come within the purview of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 unless committed with the requisite intention.
“Upon going through the impugned judgement and order dated 01.10.2020 in the light of materials placed before us, we are of the considered opinion that the views expressed by the learned Special Court, NIA leading to granting of bail to the respondent is a possible view in the facts and circumstances of the case. “Therefore, we do not find any error in the approach of the learned court below while exercising discretionary jurisdiction and granting bail to the respondent,” the High Court said in its order on April 9.
On October 1 last year, the Special NIA court had granted bail to Gogoi after submission of chargesheet by the investigating agency. “…unlawful act of any other nature, including acts arson and violence aimed at creating civil disturbance and law and order problems, which may be punishable under the ordinary law, would not come within the purview of section 15(1) of the Act of 1967 unless it is committed with the requisite intention,” the HC order said.
1967′, the bench referred to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. The High Court also noted that the bail order by the lower court was passed after submission of the chargesheet on June 26, 2020 and no formal charge has yet been framed against Gogoi.
“The materials submitted along with the chargesheet are basically statements of the witnesses recorded under section 161 of the Cr.P.C. which obviously do not have any evidential value,” it added. During the peak of anti-CAA movement in 2019, the Chabua police station on December 10 registered an FIR (case no.289/2019) under Sections 120(B), 147, 148, 149, 336, 307, 383 and 326 of the IPC along with sections 15(1)(a) and 16 of the UA(P)A.
While the matter was under investigation by the Assam police, the Union Home Ministry on December 14, 2019 ordered to shift the case to the NIA, which re-registered it as RC- 01/2020/NIA-GUW. Gogoi was rejected bail in another case related to anti- CAA violence and is being investigated by the NIA, which took his custody in December 2019.
He was last year admitted at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) for treatment of COVID-19 and he remains there for other ailments. Gogoi contested the Assam Assembly polls this year from Sibsagar constituency.