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Tablighi Jamaat: Supreme Courts Asks Centre To Facilitate Return of 36 Foreigners Who Were Acquitted

Sanya Talwar
22 Dec 2020 4:07 AM GMT
Tablighi Jamaat: Supreme Courts Asks Centre To Facilitate Return of 36 Foreigners Who Were Acquitted
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The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to assist foreign nationals to head back to their countries after being absolved of all charges for allegedly flouting Covid-19-related guidelines by participating in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Delhi's Nizamuddin.The court further noted that the aforementioned observation would not come in the way of the concerned Department, if they intend...

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The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to assist foreign nationals to head back to their countries after being absolved of all charges for allegedly flouting Covid-19-related guidelines by participating in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Delhi's Nizamuddin.

The court further noted that the aforementioned observation would not come in the way of the concerned Department, if they intend to question the correctness of the discharge/acquittal. "Subject to that, the representation can be taken forward by the Nodal Officer expeditiously," said the bench.

A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, BR Gavai & Krishna Murari asked the Government to facilitate return of 36 foreign nationals after taking on record their applications. The bench stated that the same may be done by Government appointed nodal officers.

"Ms. Menaka Guruswamy, learned senior counsel for the applicants-petitioners submits that 36 foreign nationals, who are applicants-petitioners in the present proceedings have been discharged/acquitted by the concerned Trial Court. If so, they may make representation to the Nodal Officer for facilitating their return to home country which may be processed appropriately and in accordance with law," the Supreme Court noted.

At this juncture, the court noted the assurance provided by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that any foreign national who has been exonerated has any difficulty in travelling back, their lawyers may get in touch with his office for assistance.

"Learned counsel for the applicant may get in touch with office of the Solicitor General/Advocate for the State concerned, who may look into the matter and issue appropriate instructions to the concerned officials for expediting the pending plea bargaining application moved before the concerned Court, if any," the bench recorded in its order. 

On December 15, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Arun Kumar Garg, Saket Court, Delhi court had dropped all charges against the 36 foreign nationals, citing lack of incriminating evidence.

While observing that the plea raised by accused persons is "reasonably probable" that none of them was present at Markaz during the relevant period and they had been picked up from different places so as to maliciously prosecute them, the Saket Court (Delhi) acquitted 36 foreigners facing trial for allegedly flouting COVID guidelines. 

The accused hailed from a number of countries, including the US, Russia, UK, France, Sudan, Tunisia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, United Kingdom, Thailand, Kazakhstan and Indonesia.

The trial court said that the prosecution failed to prove the presence of any of the accused inside the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat between March 12 and April 1, when the alleged violations took place.

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