The Delhi High Court Friday granted time to the Centre, AAP government and the police to respond to a plea seeking reopening of the Nizamuddin Markaz which has been locked since March 31 last year after several people who attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation there contracted COVID-19. Justice Mukta Gupta said the status report be filed by the authorities within 10 days and listed the matter for further hearing on March 24.
The high court had on February 24 issued notices and sought replies of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Delhi Government and Delhi Police on the petition filed by the Delhi Waqf Board. The Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra, representing the state and Delhi Police, sought time to file the status report.
Advocate Rajat Nair, appearing for the Centre, also prayed for some more time to file the response. The Board has sought directions to the authorities to reassess the necessity of keeping the Waqf premises available for operation as a religious place.
The Board, represented through senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, has contended that even after unlock-1 guidelines permitted religious places outside containment zones to be opened, the markaz — comprising the Masjid Bangley Wali, Madarsa Kashif-ul-uloom and attached hostel — continues to be locked up. It has further contended that even if the premises was part of any criminal investigation or trial, keeping it "under lock as an out of bound area" was a "primitive method" of enquiry process.
An FIR has been registered under the Epidemic Diseases Act, the Disaster Management Act, Foreigners Act and various provisions of the penal code in connection with the Tablighi Jamaat event held at the markaz and the subsequent stay of foreigners there during the COVID-19 lockdown.