'No procedure mandates giving detailed reasons to MHA for issuance of LOC', argues CBI in Aakar Patel's plea; Delhi Court reserves order

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In the plea moved by former Amnesty International India Chief Aakar Patel, challenging the Look Out Circular (LOC) issued against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) before a Delhi Court, the agency today argued that there is no procedure to be followed by the CBI to give detailed reasons to MHA for issuance of LOC. The order in the case was reserved today. 

CBI said that the chargesheet against Patel was filed without arrest and that the LOC application was moved in anticipation that Patel will flee from justice.

The Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pawan Kumar of the Rouse Avenue District Courts, New Delhi reserved the order which is likely to be pronounced today at 4 PM.

It was recently decided by CBI to open a LookOut Circular (LOC) against the accused Aakar Patel to thwart any attempt, if any, by him to escape the process of law and thus to prevent him from leaving India. Thereby, a  chargesheet was filed by CBI against the accused persons before the Court Ld CMM, Rouse Avenue District Courts, New Delhi.

Patel had moved the plea before the Delhi Court seeking directions to the CBI for withdrawal of the said Look Out Circular and also seeking permission to travel to United States of America till 30th May 2022 to take up his assignment and lecture series.

MHA has recently alleged in the complaint that in order to evade Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010 (FCRA), Amnesty (UK) has remitted Rs. 10 crore to Amnesty's Indian entities, classified as FDI, without MHA's approval.

Further, another Rs. 26 crore was remitted to Amnesty (India), primarily from UK based entities, without MHA's approval.

All such receipts have subsequently been expended on Amnesty's NGO activities in India, in violation of FCRA. Also Amnesty had made several attempts to obtain prior permission or registration under FCRA. The same was not granted. In reaction to repeated denials, Amnesty used commercial methods to evade FCRA.

As per the provisions of section 40 FCRA, “no court shall take cognizance of any offence under this Act, except with the previous sanction of the Central Government or any officer authorised by that Government. In this behalf sanction under section 40 of the FCRA 2010, has not been received till date and the matter is under process.”

CBI’s investigation revealed the following that:

  • M/s Amnesty, India was incorporated on 10.06.2013 with RoC, Bangalore under the name of M/s Social Sector Consultancy and Support Services India Pvt. Ltd. as a for-profit company. Later, on 20.04.2015, name of company was changed as M/s Amnesty International India Pvt. Ltd. The objective of company was to provide research, consultancy and support services in respect of human rights and other social sector issues.
  • M/s Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd had executed 49 contracts for M/s Amnesty International Ltd, UK till Oct 2020. Against the said 49 contracts M/s Amnesty International India P Ltd had received an amount of Rs 70,05,82,132.00 from M/s Amnesty International Ltd, UK.
  • Out of the 49 contracts executed by M/s Amnesty International India P Ltd 9 contracts were in the nature of a Social Programme falling under section 11(1) of FCRA. These contacts were executed by M/s Amnesty International India P Ltd with M/s Amnesty, UK during 2017-17 to 2018-19 against the total amount of Rs 12.31 Cr.
  • Out of the said 09 contracts, 06 were executed through Sh. Mohan Mundkar, the then Head Operations, M/s Amnesty, India and remaining 03 were executed through Sh. Raj Kishor Kapil, COO M/s Amnesty, India. Sh. Raj Kishor Kapil had joined the company in place of Sh. Mohan Mundkar, after he had left the company.
  • Both, Sh. Mohan Mundkar & Sh. Raj Kishor Kapil have stated that the said contracts were executed by them on the directions of Sh. Aakar Patel, the then Executive Director of the company, who was looking after the day to day affairs of the company.
  • Other directors of company were examined and they have stated that Aakar Patel was the key person in the company and holding negotiations with M/s. Amnesty, UK. He was looking after the day-to-day affairs of the company.
  • Further it was duty of the Executive Director to check whether the contracts being executed were within the legal frame work and not violating any law of the land. Further, after getting the contract, the Executive Director was required to create a team who can deliver the services requested by the client.

Thus the CBI prayed for the following relief,

“The objective of CBI for opening of Look Out Circular against the accused person was to prevent him from escaping the process of law. The Hon'ble Court may graciously be pleased to dismiss the application filed by accused Aakar Patel, in the interest of justice.”