The Delhi High Court asked the Centre, the AAP government and the police on Wednesday to respond to a plea seeking a designated court for speedy trial in a case against 121 Malaysians chargesheeted for attending Markaz at Nizamuddin here in alleged violation of visa norms as also government guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Justice Anup J Bhambhani asked the Delhi government and Delhi Police, represented by standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra and advocate Chaitanya Gosain, to file a status report on the petition filed on behalf of 125 Malaysians in all.
As of now, the police have filed chargesheets against 121 of the 125 malaysian nationals. The court, which conducted the hearing through video conferencing, also impleaded ministries of home and external affairs, as parties in the petition and asked them to respond as well and listed the matter for further hearing on July 1.
Petitioner Fahrul Naim Bin Mohd Noor said the Malaysian nationals are in the care and custody of the High Commission of Malaysia here and sought direction to establish one designated court to adjudicate upon the chargesheet in an expeditious manner.
The plea, filed by advocate S Hari Haran, said the charge sheets were filed in the competent court and they are listed for further action on June 17 and June 25.
"The Malaysian nationals are stranded in the country away from the kith and kin for almost three months. The High Commission of Malaysia is spending substantial money on maintaining these stranded citizens which could be diverted for other constructive purposes, including fighting the pandemic. The subordinate court is likely to take a substantial time to start trying cases in regular courses," the plea said.
It added that the charged foreigners be permitted to appear before the trial court through video conferencing.
Meanwhile, 11 Saudi Arabian nationals, who were also charged by the police in the matter, on Wednesday approached the high court seeking direction to the concerned trial court to conduct the proceedings through video conferencing and decide the case expeditiously by giving hearing on day to day basis.
The plea, filed through advocate Ajay Garg, also sought direction to permit these foreign nationals to go back to their country with appropriate conditions and undertaking that they shall return here to face trial and as and when called summoned by the court.
Till date, 47 chargesheets have been filed against 915 foreign nationals, belonging to 34 different countries, in the case.
According to the chargesheets, all the foreign nationals have been booked for violating visa rules, violating government guidelines issued in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and regulations regarding Epidemic diseases Act, Disaster Management Act and prohibitory orders under section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure.
They have also been for the offences under sections 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 270 (Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 271 (Disobedience to quarantine rule) of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Foreigners Act.
The Centre has cancelled their Visa and blacklisted them. The foreign nationals have not been arrested yet.
In April, COVID-19 cases across the country spiked after hundreds of many Tablighi Jamaat members, who had attended the religious congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz event, tested positive.
At least 9,000 people, including the foreign nationals participated in the religious congregation in Nizamuddin. Later, many of the attendees travelled to various parts of the country.
The punishment for various offences under penal provisions ranges from six months to eight years of imprisonment.
A FIR was registered against Tablighi Jamaat leader Maulana Saad Kandhalvi and six others on March 31 on a complaint of the Station House Officer of Nizamuddin under sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act, Disaster Management Act (2005), Foreigners Act and other relevant sections of Indian Penal Code.
Kandhalvi was later booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder after some of the attendees of the religious congregation died due to Covid-19, police said.
After being exposed to a large gathering in March amid the COVID-19 or coronavirus lockdown many members of Tablighi Jamaat from Markaz Hazrat Nizamuddin were taken out by the authorities and lodged in different quarantine centres in Delhi. Some of them were sent to the centres a few days later after being detained from various mosques.
The other members were directly taken to quarantine centres to contain the spread of COVID-19.