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'Same Problem Will Arise': Supreme Court Equates Farmers' Protest With Tablighi Jamaat Event

The top court issued formal notice in the matter after which Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that he will file a report in the matter. (Representative image)

The top court issued formal notice in the matter after which Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that he will file a report in the matter. (Representative image)

The SC asked the Centre if the farmers are protected from COVID-19. 'You must tell us what is happening,’ a three-judge bench led by CJI SA Bobde said.

The Supreme Court on Thursday drew a comparison between the farmers camped at Delhi’s borders to protest against the Centre’s farm laws and the congregation of Tablighi Jamaat in March last year to voice the apprehension that it may lead to a “similar problem”, alluding to the rise in Covid-19 cases reported after the Markaz event.

“Same problem will arise from the farmers’ protest... Don’t know if they are protected from COVID-19... You must tell us what is happening,’ a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde asked the Centre. “Certainly not,” Solicitor General Mehta responded before adding he will find out the status.

The International Muslim missionary group had been charged with aggravating the health emergency in India and the episode had given rise to Islamophobic propaganda. The government had also blacklisted over 950 foreign nationals, before a series of rulings by high courts and lower courts had quashed cases against the attendees who challenged the charges and stood their ground.

The top court, however, raised concerns that the farmers protest may result in a similar spike. "We are trying to ensure that COVID does not spread. Ensure that guidelines are being followed".

The top was hearing a plea seeking various reliefs including CBI probe into the matter related to assembly of people at Anand Vihar Bus Terminal and the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizammudin Markaz in the national capital.

“It is not that everything is over,” said CJI Bobde, referring to the pandemic. The bench also comprised Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian. Mehta said that he will file a report within two weeks on what has been done and what needs to be done.

The plea, filed by lawyer Supriya Pandita, alleged that Delhi police had failed to control the congregation of people and the Nizamuddin Markaz chief Maulana Saad was still evading arrest.

Advocate Om Prakash Parihar, appearing for the petitioner, said that no statement has been made by the Centre about the whereabouts of Maulana Saad. The bench told Parihar, “Why are you interested in one person? We are on the issue of COVID. Why do you want controversy? We are interested that COVID guidelines should be there.”

The top court issued formal notice in the matter after which Mehta said that he will file a report in the matter. The Centre had on June 5 last year told the top court that probe into assembly of people at Anand Vihar Bus Terminal in east Delhi during nationwide lockdown and the Tablighi Jamaat event is being conducted on day-to-day basis by Delhi Police and there was no need for CBI investigation.


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