A Delhi court Saturday directed the police to release the passports of 35 foreigners, who were acquitted in December last year in a case in which they were charge sheeted for attending the Tablighi Jamaat congregation here, allegedly being negligent and disobeying the government guidelines issued in wake of COVID-19 pandemic. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg said all the foreigners have already been acquitted by the court and the police has not filed any appeal/revision till date to the acquittal order.
The court's directions came after the investigating officer submitted he had no objection in releasing the passports to the foreigners. Advocate Ashima Mandla, appearing for the foreigners, submitted that the Look out Circulars (LOCs) issued against the foreigners were closed in February.
The court said in its similar order passed on the foreigners' applications, "...considering the facts that the accused have already been acquitted by the court vide judgement dated December 15, 2020, non-filing of any appeal/revision by the state against the judgement dated December 12, 2020 of this court till date and that the LOC(s) qua the applicant(s) have already been closed by the DCP pursuant to the directions of the Supreme Court of India, the application of the present applicant(s) is disposed off with the directions to release the original passport(s) of the applicant(s) to the applicant(s) or his/her (their) attorney against proper acknowledgement as per rules, after verification of his/her (their) identity."
The applications, moved through Mandla and Mandakini Singh, sought release of the passports which were in the custody of the police. The pleas noted that the Supreme Court had on January 13 directed the government to facilitate the return of the acquitted foreigners to their respective countries. While acquitting the foreigners from 14 countries of all charges in December last year, the court had said the prosecution has failed to prove the presence of the accused at the Markaz premises during from March 12 to April 1.
The court had further said in its order that as per the list of evacuees, none of the accused was having Covid-19 symptoms and hence there was no question of any negligent act on their part, which to their knowledge or belief was likely to spread infection. It is beyond comprehension of the court, as to how, Investigating Officer (IO) could have identified 952 foreign nationals out of 2,343 persons, who as per Station House Officer, were found flouting the guidelines, without any Test Identification Parade, but on the basis of the list provided by Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, it had said.