4 Jan 2022 11:32 AM GMT
The Delhi Police has informed the Delhi High Court that the Indian nationals, who had admitted and accommodated foreign attendees of the Tablighi Jamaat congregation last year in the Masjid premises, had not only violated the prohibitory orders issued by the Delhi Government but also contributed to the spread of COVID 19. The development came after a status report was filed by the Delhi Police...
The Delhi Police has informed the Delhi High Court that the Indian nationals, who had admitted and accommodated foreign attendees of the Tablighi Jamaat congregation last year in the Masjid premises, had not only violated the prohibitory orders issued by the Delhi Government but also contributed to the spread of COVID 19.
The development came after a status report was filed by the Delhi Police in a bunch of pleas filed by Indian nationals seeking quashing of the FIRs registered against them for sheltering the attendees of Tablighi Jamaat congregation in their homes or mosques amid the Covid-19 lockdown last year.
Last month, Justice Mukta Gupta had sought response from the Delhi Police on the question as to whether there was any prohibition on any Indian national from keeping a foreigner at his residence who had come to India on a valid passport and visa at the relevant time last year for attending Tablighi Jamaat congregation.
"The Petitioners have been accused of accommodating the assembly of the Tablighi Jamaat who were found in the Markaz, Hazrat Nizamuddin on 31.03.2020 and had travelled to reside in the premises of the Masjid Sayyed Rafi. Chandni Mahal, where they were found on 31.03.2020. Accordingly, by admitting the assembly into Masjid premises without any social distancing or hygiene measures the Petitioners not only violated the S. 144 order dated 31.03.2020 and the GNCTD notification dated 22.03.2020 but also contributed to the spreading of COVID-19, a life threatening disease," the status report reads.
It added that the cause of action in the matter is that the petitioners admitted or accommodated the assembly of the Jamaat into the Masjid premises after prohibitory orders by the GNCTD were issued.
"From the investigation conducted, it was uncovered that the Members of the Tablighi Jamaat were found in Markaz, Hazrat Nizamuddin from 26-03-2020 to 31.03.2020 and were then found residing in Badi Masjid, Chandni Mahal on 31.03.2020. Accordingly, the Petitioners started providing accommodation to the Assembly well before 31.03.2020," it adds.
During the course of hearing today, Advocate Ashima Mandla appearing for the petitioners submitted before the Court that while the prohibitory orders issued by the Delhi Government specifically prohibited religious congregations and religious gatherings, the attendees who were found inside mosques or in houses were just merely provided shelter.
"The contention in the FIR is that you stayed in the masjid despite there being a prohibitory order. They said specifically that any gathering social, cultural, religious, sports etc. is prohibited. They say a religious congregation is prohibited. The fact of the matter here is that even if these people are found inside mosque today or in houses, that is just simplicitor shelter," she submitted.
Accordingly, the Court granted two weeks time to Mandla for filing a rejoinder on the legal issues as well as the factual matrix in each of the FIRs.
While posting the matter for further hearing on February 28, the Court also granted further two weeks time for filing of written statements.
Earlier, the Court had quizzed the Police as to where would the people have gone when a lockdown was suddenly imposed in the city.
"What is the offence committed? Is there any bar on residents of Madhya Pradesh to come and stay in Delhi or stay in any temple, masjid, gurdwara," the Court had said.
About the Petitions
Some of the petitioners stated that FIR No. 74/2020 registered against two of them under Sections 188, 269, 270, 120-B of the Indian Penal Code,1860, was wholly unwarranted, concocted and untenable in law, and further that they have been compelled to face unwarranted and unsubstantiated charges, infringing upon their personal liberty.
They also alleged that the FIR was lodged against them only on the basis of their alleged presence at Choti Masjid, Fatak Teliyan during the nation-wide lockdown imposed in light of Covid-19, and further stated that there was "no shred of evidence" to initiate such a case against them.
The petitioners also claimed that a bare perusal of the FIR would indicate that the only allegations against them was their alleged presence inside the Masjid along-with foreign nationals, however, there was no whisper of either any religious/social gathering being held inside the Masjid or of the petitioners being Covid-19 positive.
Other FIRs in question were FIR Nos. 89, 86, 82, 84 , 85, 76, 75, 80 and 79 registered at Chandni Mahal police station.
Case Title: MOHD ANWAR & ORS. v. STATE NCT OF DELHI