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Top Assam rights leader's 'repeated' arrest undemocratic, violates natural justice

Akhil Gogoi
Counterview Desk
A statement, issued by 28 concerned citizens of India, well-known literary critic Hiren Gohain, academic and politician Yogendra Yadav, and Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan has deplored the “deliberate circumvention” of the norms of natural justice in detaining Akhil Gogoi, a peasant leader and Right to Information activist from Assam, in case after case to make the bail orders ineffective.
Calling the detention of Gogoi “undemocratic and unjust”, the statement, signed by 30 activists and professionals, says that, despite illness, hehas not been hospitalised and the authorities have been merely making rounds of the Medical College, always taking him at a time in the late afternoon when only junior Doctors are present.

Text:

We, the following citizens of India are deeply worried about the consequences for Indian Democracy of the callous attitude of the state of Assam in the matter of continuous detention of Akhil Gogoi, a social activist of repute, through repeated arrests on various cases despite being granted bail by Courts.
His ordeal began on September 13, 2017 when he was arrested under the National Security Act (NSA) because of a speech made in a meeting. As the “Times of India” reported on December 21m 2017, the NSA charges were based on 12 cases registered against him in various police stations of Assam.
The Gauhati High Court quashed the detention order. However, the government remained vindictive and kept on bringing charges against him which the government failed to prove in any courts of law. The recent detention of him began when he organised anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in Assam. He was arrested from Jorhat on December 12, 2019 by police and was then handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The NIA failed to charge-sheet him within the mandatory 90 days and therefore the NIA Special Court granted him bail. That was challenged in the Gauhati High Court but a stay was refused by the High Court. He remained in jail despite the grant of bail because the Sibsagar police rearrested him immediately, in a case registered a year back.
He was then taken by Sibasagar police on March 19 and kept under four-day police custody. On March 26 Gogoi was granted bail in another case by the Panbazar police station (crime branch). The case was registered in January and was, once again, related to anti-CAA protest violence.
However, before he could be released, the Dibrugarh district’s Chabua police station some 400 km away from Guwahati, cited a ‘shown arrest’ on March 28 in connection with a case number 290 without physically producing him before courts. The shown arrest by Chabua police station on March 28 coincided with Gogoi being granted bail in a Sibsagar police station-related case, filed between December 11 and 12, also allegedly related to anti-CAA violence. 
Higher judiciary needs to intervene  to protect the human rights of activists who try to correct apparently unwise actions of any government
During the time of bail, the advocates representing the government side did not inform the court about the cases lodged against Akhil Gogoi at other police stations of the State. It was the duty of the advocate representing Government to inform the court about the same.
Hiren Gohain, Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav
By repeatedly re-arresting Gogoi, the police have violated the personal liberty of the activist. This practice of re-arresting accused in old cases, when the charge sheets could not be filed in any major charges, is an attempt at circumventing the judicial scrutiny of executive actions. 
It of course is a gross violation of the norms of natural justice. The higher judiciary needs to intervene to protect the human rights of activists who try to correct apparently unwise actions of any government.
Gogoi's health has also been deteriorating and the jail authorities have not been giving him proper treatment as a result the NIA special court had to order a check up and also constitute a medical board to monitor his health. Despite illness Gogoi has not been hospitalised and the authorities have been merely making rounds of the Medical College always taking him at a time in the late afternoon when only junior doctors are present.
We fear that something serious might happen to him, particularly, when the Supreme Court has asked authorities to release even some convicts because of the spread of coronavirus. The arrests are not innocuous.
These are instances of blatant abuse of power by the government of the day. We urge upon the higher judiciary to take suo motto action on this matter. The government must be prevented from using such tactics to fight political opponents. This is a tactic that breaks all norms of democratic governance.
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Click here for signatories

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