Raijor Dal chief and MLA from Assam’s Sivasagar, Akhil Gogoi appeared before the special NIA court in Guwahati on Thursday in connection with two cases filed against him during the violent anti-CAA protests in Assam in December, 2019.
The NIA court had asked him to appear before it today. The court has completed the hearing in the cases against him and reserved the judgment.
As per reports, another hearing in the matter has been posted for February 28 before which, the Supreme Court will hear Akhil Gogoi’s bail plea on Friday.
Further proceedings from the NIA in the matter will take place only after the Supreme Court hearing.
Akhil Gogoi had to appear before the NIA court today after the Assam government had appealed to the Gauhati High Court to look into the cases filed against the Sivasagar MLA. Based on the appeal, the high court had directed the NIA court to reopen the case.
It may be noted that earlier, granting interim protection to Akhil Gogoi, the Supreme Court had directed against the further arrest Akhil Gogoi in connection with the matter till the case remains subjudice.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court granted Sivasagar MLA Akhil Gogoi protection from arrest related to the anti-CAA protests case and suspected Maoist links and further sought response from the NIA on his plea.
Akhil Gogoi had moved the apex court against the February 9 order of the Gauhati High Court which allowed the special NIA court in Assam to proceed to frame charges against him in one of the two cases.
A bench consisting of justices V Ramasubramanian and Pankaj Mithal noted, “Let notice be served on the standing counsel for the State (NIA), for the limited purpose of considering the grant of protection to the petitioner from arrest pursuant to the impugned order, returnable on February 24, 2023. In the meantime, the petitioner ( Akhil Gogoi) shall be protected against arrest in connection with FIR bearing ... dated December 14, 2019, Police Station NIA, Guwahati.”
The high court had allowed the NIA to seek framing of charges in the special court against Akhil Gogoi and three associates of his, namely Dhajya Konwar, Manas Konwar and Bitu Sonowal, in connection with anti-CAA protests and suspected Maoist links. The order came based on the appeal of the NIA challenging the order of a special NIA court to give clean chit to the four.
The high court bench comprising justices Suman Shyam and Malasri Nandi asked the agency to go forward with framing charges against Akhil Gogoi and the rest after reopening the case.
Akhil Gogoi’s counsel Santanu Borthakur had said, “The high court has accepted NIA's plea to reopen the case and frame charges against the four persons. The case will be heard again in the Special NIA Court.”
Meanwhile, the other three accused, who had been granted bail in the NIA case, were released from the jail. Akhil Gogoi was the only one whose bail was rejected by the court and he was released after spending 567 days in jail after special NIA judge Pranjal Das cleared him along with the three others of all charges.
All of the four including Akhil Gogoi had been asked to appear before the special NIA court today. The NIA is probing two cases against Akhil Gogoi related to anti-CAA protests. The special NIA court had granted him bail in one of those cases which had been upheld by the Gauhati High Court too in April, 2021.
However, Akhil Gogoi continued to remain in judicial custody as his bail plea in the second case related to violence at anti-CAA protests was under investigation by the NIA. On July 1, 2021, the special NIA court released Akhil Gogoi and his three associates for their alleged role in the violent anti-CAA protests in Assam in December 2019.
The court observed that Akhil Gogoi’s ‘talk of blockade’ did not threaten the country’s economic security and was not ‘a terrorist act’. The NIA court then moved the Gauhati High Court to appeal to it so as to allow the agency to frame charges against Akhil Gogoi under various sections including sedition and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The special NIA court had mentioned in a strongly worded order that in the interest of justice, it found the conduct and approach of the investigating authority in the case to be “discouraging” at the least.
The order read, “The court has high expectations from a premier investigating agency like the NIA, entrusted with the profoundly important task of protecting our country and us, citizens from the menace of terrorism. The court hopes and expects that such high standards will be upheld, for the sake of the country and this one will be just an exception.”