The Allahabad High Court on Monday (19th October) issued notice to the State Government in connection with an application, filed by 12 Bangladeshi Nationals (members of Tablighi Jamaat), praying to quash the charge sheet dated 06.06.2020 as well as cognizance order dated 31.07.2020
Arguments put forth
The counsel for the applicants submitted before the Court that the applicants are innocent and have been falsely implicated in this case on baseless ground and illegal proceedings.
It was argued that they did not violate any provision of Foreigner Act, Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and at any point of time during their stay in India.
It was contended that the prosecution against them was instituted with malicious intention to harass them.
The applicants relied upon judgements of High Court at Bombay at Nagpur Bench in Criminal Application (APL) No. 453 of 2020 and High Court at Bombay at Aurangabad Bench in Criminal Writ No. 548 of 2020.
The A.G.A. opposed the prayer and submitted that applicants were actively involved in this offence and have violated the rules.
Criminal Application (APL) No. 453 of 2020 [Nagpur Bench] and Criminal Writ No. 548 of 2020 [Aurangabad Bench]
Notably, the Bombay High Court [Criminal Application (APL) No. 453 of 2020 (Nagpur Bench)] on 21st September had quashed the FIR and the charge sheet filed against 8 Myanmar Nationals (booked for 'Tablighi activities') while observing that "allowing the prosecution to continue would be nothing but an abuse of the process of the Court, especially because of lack of evidence supporting the charges levelled against foreigners."
"It is also not disputed that they were kept in isolation from 24.03.2020 till 31.03.2020 under the supervision of Dr Khawaj, NMC Zonal Officer, Mominpura, Nagpur. There is no material on record to prove that applicants had indulged in any act which was likely to spread infection of COVID -19".
Also, in a strongly-worded judgment, the Bombay High Court [Criminal Writ No. 548 of 2020 (Aurangabad Bench)] had quashed the FIRs filed against a total of 29 foreign nationals who were booked under various provisions of IPC, Epidemic Diseases Act, Maharashtra Police Act, Disaster Management Act and Foreigner's Act for allegedly violating their Tourist Visa conditions by attending the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin in Delhi.
Allahabad HC's Order in the present matter
The Court remarked,
"In view of the submission made by learned counsel for the applicants and fact of the case, this Court is of the opinion that matter requires consideration. Issue notice to opposite party no.2 returnable at an early date."
Further, the Court ordered,
"Learned counsel for the opposite party no.2 may file his counter-affidavit within three weeks. Learned A.G.A. appearing for the State of U.P. may also file a counter affidavit in the aforesaid period. Rejoinder affidavit, if any, may be filed within one week thereafter. Till then no coercive action shall be taken against the applicants in the above-mentioned case." (emphasis supplied)
Speaking to Live Law, the Counsel for the Applicants (Satya Dheer Singh Jadaun) said that the Court was prima facie convinced that the charge-sheet against the Applicants could be quashed, however the Court issued notice to the respondent in order to ascertain its stand so that a reasoned order could be delivered.
The matter has been listed for further hearing on 23.11.2020.
Significantly, the Allahabad High Court on 30th September directed that the cases pending against the members of Tablighi Jamaat in Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Prayagraj, Varanasi and Lucknow Zones be transferred to Chief Judicial Magistrate, Lucknow.
Likewise, the cases pending in Agra and Meerut Zones be transferred to Chief Judicial Magistrate, Meerut.
Lastly, the cases pending in Bareilly Zone be transferred to Chief Judicial (10) Magistrate, Bareilly. The names of different districts which fall under the aforesaid zones have been mentioned in the Judgment attached below.
Click Here To Download Order