SC protects independent Assam MLA Akhil Gogoi from arrest in NIA case related to anti-CAA stir
SC defends Assam MLA Akhil Gogoi, who was not arrested in NIA case related to anti-CAA agitation
The Supreme Court has granted immunity to independent Assam MLA Akhil Gogoi from arrest in connection with a case related to anti-CAA protests and suspected Maoist links, and sought a response from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on his plea.
The lawmaker, who is said to have been vocal against the Center during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, has appealed to the Supreme Court against the Guwahati High Court’s February 9 order allowing the prosecution of a special NIA court in Assam. In one of the two cases he
“For the limited purpose of considering granting protection to the petitioner from arrest in pursuance of the impugned order, which will be withdrawn on February 24, 2023, a notice shall be sent to the Standing Attorney of the State (NIA).
“Meanwhile, the petitioner (Gogoi) bearer of FIR … shall be protected against arrest in connection with the FIR dated … Police Station NIA, Guwahati,” a bench comprising Justices V Ramasubramanian and Pankaj Mittal ordered on Tuesday. Senior advocate Huseba Ahmadi appeared on behalf of the lawmaker.
Earlier, the high court had allowed the NIA to file a chargesheet in a special court against Gogoi and three of his associates in connection with anti-CAA protests and suspected Maoist links.
The high court’s order came in an appeal filed by the NIA against the special NIA court’s order granting a clean chit to the four.
A high court division bench comprising Justices Suman Shyam and Malasree Nandy asked the agency to frame the charges after resuming the case. “The High Court has accepted the NIA’s plea to reopen the case and file chargesheet against the four persons. The case will be heard again in a special NIA court,” said Cocaine’s lawyer Shantanu Porthakur.
MLA challenged this order in the Supreme Court. The other three accused, Taijya Gonwar, Bittu Sonowal and Manash Gonwar, were released from jail on bail in the NIA case.
Gogoi alone was denied bail by the court, and he was released after spending 567 days in jail, with Special NIA Judge Pranjal Das acquitting him of all charges along with three others.
The Assam legislator and three others have been asked to appear before a special NIA court on February 23.
The NIA is investigating two cases against Gogoi in connection with the anti-CAA protests. In one of them, a special NIA court granted him bail, which was upheld by the Guwahati High Court in April 2021 after the investigating agency challenged it.
Bail was denied in the second case related to anti-CAA violence and the RTI activist remained in judicial custody pending investigation by the NIA.
Later, on July 1, 2021, a special NIA court acquitted Gogoi and three of his accomplices for causing the Anti-Violence Citizenship (Amendment) Act agitation in the state in December 2019. The blockade” threatened the country’s economic security or was an “act of terrorism”. The NIA later appealed to the Guwahati High Court to allow the agency to file charges under various sections of the IPC and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, including sedition.
The special NIA court said the conduct and attitude of the investigating officer in the case was “encouraging” in the interests of justice.
“The court has high expectations from a flagship investigative agency like the NIA which is entrusted with the deeply important task of protecting our country and us citizens from the menace of terrorism. “The court believes and expects that such high standards will be upheld in the interest of the country, and this will be an exception,” the special NIA court said in the order.