Akhil Gogoi Case: Legal Angle

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

Peasant leader Akhil Gogoi was allowed bail by the Gauhati High Court in three cases held up by the Assam Police, with regard to the protests against the Anti-Citizenship Amendment Act in December 2019. Be that as it may, he will stay in prison for the cases being tested by the National Investigation Agency (hereinafter referred to as the “NIA”). Hearing the bail applications in the three cases enlisted at Chabua Police Headquarters in the Dibrugarh area, Justice Manash Ranjan Pathak allowed bail to the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (hereinafter referred to as the “KMSS”) leader, Akhil Gogoi.

Gogoi’s supporter Santanu Borthakur stated: “Presently he has got bail in all cases, with the exception of the two NIA cases. The conference in one of these two cases will begin in the following barely any days. We trust the court will give bail to him.” The three cases, for which Gogoi was captured on 29 May while he was at that point in prison, were identified with consuming of a mail station, a circle office and a part of the United Bank of India in Chabua during savage protests against the questionable Citizenship Amendment Act.

NIA is investigating two cases, which were at first enlisted at Chandmari and Chabua Police Headquarters, identified with the supposed job of Gogoi in the vicious protests. Gogoi, the guide of KMSS, tested positive for COVID-19 inside Guwahati Central Jail on 11 July and was being treated at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (hereinafter referred to as the “GMCH”).

Amidst the serious Anti-CAA development, Gogoi was captured on 12 December, 2019, from Jorhat as a “preventive measure” followed by which his three associates were arrested the following day. The four leaders were later captured in various old cases enrolled across various police headquarters in Assam. They have made bail in the greater part of these cases. The unique NIA Court had allowed bail to Gogoi on 17 March in the Chandmari Police Headquarters case, and accordingly to others after the investigating organization neglected to record a charge sheet inside the predetermined time of 90 days.

On 29 May, the NIA documented the charge sheet against Gogoi and three of his partners for dissidence and fear exercises. KMSS leader Bittu Sonowal, who was captured by NIA alongside Gogoi, was allowed bail by an extraordinary NIA Court on Wednesday. Another, KMSS leader Manash Konwar got bail by the extraordinary NIA Court here and he was discharged from the prison on Tuesday. The fourth partner, Dhaijya Konwar, has not yet gotten bail. He, alongside Gogoi and Sonowal, was being treated at GMCH in the wake of testing positive for COVID-19.

Facts of the Case

In Assam that has a background marked by numerous ethnic developments, Akhil Gogoi, 44, has become famous by driving a few tumults in the previous multi decade. His words and activities on issues, for example, large dams, land rights, debasement, unapproved cost doors increased his mass intrigue, however not without welcoming the fury of the decision class.

The current government drove by the Bharatiya Janata Party (hereinafter referred to as the “BJP”) has been especially brutal on him, and has guaranteed that Gogoi, 44, stays in the slammer for quite a while. The worker leader and anti-debasement lobbyist is presently dealing with indictments under the tough Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2019 for allegedly inducing brutality during the protests against the dubious Citizenship (Amendment) Act in a joint effort with Maoists, last December.

Gogoi, who tried positive COVID-19 alongside 54 different prisoners of Guwahati Central Jail not long ago, has been moved to the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital following a gigantic open clamour. The State Government was blamed for delaying his test report, even as he continued whining about his bombing well-being. Common society gatherings and resistance groups have been long requesting the arrival of Gogoi, refering to the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 12 and 13, several Assamese understudies from the nation over, just as the scholars’ locale in the state composed separate letters to Assam boss pastor Sarbananda Sonwal, requesting the arrival of Gogoi and other political detainees who were captured during the anti-CAA fomentation a year ago.

Legal Provisions Involved

Gogoi has additionally been reserved under different arrangements of the Indian Penal Code including but not limited to subversion (section 124-A), the discipline of criminal scheme (section 120-B), unlawful affiliation (section 153A) and ascriptions, and declarations biased to national-incorporation (section 153-B). Without a doubt, Gogoi has followed through on an overwhelming cost for his constant promotion of individuals’ privileges.

Moreover, this was not the first run through Gogoi has been charged and captured under such draconian laws. In 2017, the Government of Assam had him captured and charged under different arrangements of the National Security Act, 1980, that permits specialists to confine an individual for as long as a year. Fortunately, the respectable Guwahati High Court had interceded and requested his prompt discharge by holding that the detainment abused his key rights under Article 22 (5) of the Constitution. More than 100 criminal cases have been enlisted against Gogoi, till date.

Critical Analysis

It is important to remind ourselves in contemporary India, that governmental issues make the law as and when required, and even change or replaces them for their convenience. But somewhere in this conundrum, there is a breaking point, where the masses start craving justice. The instance of Akhil Gogoi reaffirms a conviction that while law controls, legislative issues oversee!

Constant detainment of social extremist Akhil Gogoi, through rehashed arrests since December 12 is a significant worry for those of us who have faith in rule of law being a significant part of Indian Democracy. Confronting preliminaries on unmerited charges isn’t new to Gogoi. He has been a social extremist known for battling debasement in high places and in Government, and privileges of workers, jobless and the landless. His ongoing difficulty started with the anti-CAA development in which he had the option to prepare an enormous number of individuals who tested the Bill. The Bill was seen as an endeavor at changing Assam’s demography and in this way, compromising the social character and political privileges of the Assamese (lawful occupants) in their own country.

Between Arrests & Bails  

His detainment has followed when he composed anti-CAA protests in Assam, which in the long run spread to the whole nation. He was captured from Jorhat on December 12, 2019, as a preventive measure while protests were on. On December 13, Guwahati police enrolled a suo-moto body of evidence against him. The Guwahati case was given over to NIA on December 14 and he was reserved him under the scandalous Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). In any case, they neglected to charge sheet him inside the compulsory time of 90 days and along these lines he was allowed bail on March 17 by the Special Judge, NIA.

Conclusion

Common society has communicated worry about the results of such official strategies for Indian popular government. In excess of 30 individuals including scholars, advocates, senior columnists, authors, activists, previous parliamentarians and others from across India gave an announcement on April 2. The signatories have lamented how the standards of normal justice have been evaded to confine Gogoi in one case after another, rendering particular bail orders ineffective. It was certain that the rehashed arrests of Gogoi, were proposed to empower the government to keep him in guardianship with no preliminaries. Therefore, he has been denied of his entitlement to individual freedom. This act of re-capturing the denounced was used in old cases, when the charge sheets couldn’t be documented in any significant charges. It appears to be an endeavour at going around the process of legal investigation. It obviously is a gross infringement of the standards of normal justice.

The higher legal executives need to intervene, to secure the human privileges of all activists who endure such injustice. Gogoi’s well-being has additionally been falling apart and the prison authorities have not been giving him legitimate treatment. Therefore, the NIA uncommon court needed to arrange a registration and furthermore to designate a clinical board to screen his well-being. In spite of ailment, Gogoi has not been hospitalized and the authorities have been simply making rounds of the Medical College in the late evening when just junior doctors are available. It will be disastrous, if something adverse were to transpire, especially with regard to the ongoing pandemic. The lawful club now needs to watch out for our legal procedure when an active rumored judge says that the laws and legitimate framework are equipped for the rich and powerful.

Author: Kanya Saluja from Institute of Law, Nirma University.

Editor: Astha Garg, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.

Explained: Functioning of NIA

Reading time: 6-8 minutes.

Last month, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh alleged that the actions of the Central Government directed the National Investigation Agency to investigate the offenses committed regarding Bhima Koregaon case was against the Constitution. He condemned the Central Government of not receiving the consent of the Maharashtra Government before transferring the investigation to the agency.

He stated that the case was closely tied to sensitive issues and the Maharashtra Government was probing the case to find the root of the matter. Suspicion was also stated by the minister as the investigation was in the process and there was no apparent reason the Central Government to act in such a way.

Significance of this development

When the investigation of the case is transferred to the National Investigation Agency, the State Government and police officers under the government cannot continue the investigation. Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had stated that the action of the Central Government is questionable as the right to investigate the issue was suddenly taken away from the Maharashtra Government.

The reaction of Maharashtra Government can be seen as questioning the possibility of the Central Government misusing the power the Centre has regarding the NIA system and need to justify for taking away the right to investigate the issue from the State Government.

What is NIA?

The National Investigation Agency is an agency established by the Government of India which came to existence on December 31st, 2008 when the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 was enacted. It is headquartered in New Delhi, and its branches are located in Hyderabad, Lucknow, Kolkata, Mumbai, etc. It works as a central agency that enforces counter-terrorism laws and prosecutes offenses that fall under Scheduled Offences specified by the Act.

The agency aims to investigate and prosecute offenses which potentially affect security, sovereignty and integrity of India, and its foreign relations, smuggling of large quantities of counterfeit Indian currency, and atomic or nuclear facilities. NIA also takes responsibility for implementing international treaties or agreements made in the United Nations or other international organizations to facilitate international procedures.

The goals of NIA are to uphold the values inscribed in the Constitution and abide by the law while facilitating the process of investigation and prosecution for an effective and speedy trial. NIA seeks to keep a professional relationship with governments of States and Union and other law enforcement organizations to maximize the effectiveness of cooperation through assisting them with investigations in terror cases and working as a database of all terrorists related information. 

The powers and functions of NIA

National Investigation Agency is established to fight back terrors and investigate various offenses. For the agency to properly carry out its duties, it is necessary for the agency to be empowered to investigate and prosecute without unnecessary intervention of the third parties. National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 empowers the agency to investigate and prosecute. Chapter III of the NIA Act empowers the agency to investigate offences, when the agency is directed by the Central Government.

The State Government may also request Central Government to transfer the investigation to NIA. Once the investigation is transferred to the agency, the State Government and police officers under the government cannot proceed with the investigation and it is their duty to transfer all the relevant documents and data to the agency.

For the investigation of the case, officers of the agency will have same powers of the police officers with the investigation across India. The power of the agency will also have power to investigate matters outside India subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries. The agency can also into offenses that are potentially connected with the offences under the Scheduled Offence list.

As for the prosecution of NIA, the agency can prosecute scheduled offences committed through Special Courts of NIA. Special Courts, which are constituted along with the appointment of a judge by Central Government and State Government from the recommendation list provided by the Chief Justice of the High Court, have all powers of the court of sessions provided under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

When there are any questions regarding the jurisdiction of Special Courts, it can be referred to the Central Government and depending on the discretion of the Centre, Special Courts will have jurisdictions over such cases. Further, trials held in Special Courts will have precedence over any other trials held in courts that are not Special Court. Special Courts can also hold the trial for the offenses that are connected to the Scheduled Offences, which is provided under section 14 of the NIA Act. The trial will be carried out with the presence of a public prosecutor who will be appointed by the Central Government.

Allocations of cases to NIA

Cases are allocated to National Investigation Agency through the process of informing the higher administrative bodies until it reaches the Central Government. The local police station can inform the State Government about the case relating to Scheduled Offence which can be then forwarded to the Central Government. If the Central Government finds it to be Scheduled Offence within 15 days, the Central Government can allocate the case to NIA for investigation. Moreover, a case can be transferred from one Special Court to another.

The transfer of such cases can be done by both Supreme Court and High Court, with latter restricted to within that specific state. NIA Act has enabled the transfer of cases between Special Courts to ensure that the case is investigated and heard by the most appropriate Special Court. It has also ensured that trial of Special Courts take priority over trials in courts that are not Special Courts as cases Special Courts prosecute often are very important or serious incidents.

Relevant landmark cases

The case of State of Maharashtra vs Ravi Dhiren and Ors. is one of the important cases heard by Special Court. The case was prosecuted against the group of criminals who tried to transport large quantity of counterfeit Indian currency. The court stated that such acts threaten the unity, integrity security and sovereignty of the country and thus needs to be halted, which is specifically the reason for the existence of NIA.

The Special Court refers specifically to the evidence provided by NIA to convict the criminals. The evidence produced by NIA is documents and data collected from letters or testimonies or organizations such as banks. This case proves that NIA plays a vital role in trials held by Special Courts as the court refers to the evidence collected by the agency. It is the case that proved the function of NIA and the reason for its existence.

Conclusion

National Investigation Agency is an independent institution that combats terrors and other crimes which endangers security, integrity, and sovereignty of the country. Although there is dependency on the Central Government as the Centre has the discretion to transfer the case to the agency, NIA Act allows effective and speedy trial through enabling transfer of cases to ensure the issue is dealt by the most appropriate Special Court while enabling reasonable intervention of Supreme Court and High Court for the matter of equity.

Author: Byeongwoo Park from National Law School of India University, Bangalore.

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala