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Tablighi Jamaat Case: Mumbai Metropolitan Court Drops All But One Charge Against Foreign Nationals

File photo of Tablighi Jamaat at Delhi's Nizamuddin Markaz.

File photo of Tablighi Jamaat at Delhi's Nizamuddin Markaz.

Their advocate said that they were not congregating at the said mosque but were instead staying there since they were not able to go back to their home countries due to the coronavirus situation.

A week after the discharge pleas of 20 foreign nationals, who had taken part in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation were rejected, a metropolitan magistrate’s court on Wednesday let go of all charges against them, keeping only the one in which the maximum punishment can go up to Rs 2,500 in fine.

According to a report in The Indian Express, RR Khan, the metropolitan magistrate R R Khan had turned down the discharge applications of 10 Indonesian and 10 Kyrgyzstan nationals, noting that there was no legal proof against them in spreading the coronavirus but they were all discovered inside a mosque days after the nationwide lockdown was imposed.

Their advocate, Amin Solkar, said that they were not congregating at the said mosque but were instead staying there since they were not able to go back to their home countries due to the coronavirus situation and the lockdown. However, the court had observed that there was documentary evidence, such as the FIR and arrest form, against the accused. But on Wednesday, the magistrate court said no case was made to try them under sections of the Foreigners Act for purported visa rules infringement, Epidemic Disease Act or two sections of the Indian Penal Code relating to the spread of an infectious disease.

The court noted that a case can be made against them only under the Bombay Police Act for disobedience of an order and the highest punishment under the section is the imposition of a fine of Rs 2,500.

The 20 foreign nationals were informed about the charges by the court and they all pleaded not guilty, after which the court proceeded to frame charges against them, the report added. The accused further filed an application seeking to fasten the trial, on which the court has sought the police’s reply. Notably, the DN Nagar Police had in March lodged two FIRs alleging that the two groups, members of which arrived in the country in February and travelled to Mumbai in March, as part of the Tablighi Jamaat, had flouted visa rules and held it responsible for the furthering of Covid-19.

Meanwhile, a Delhi court on Wednesday dismissed the pleas filed by 35 foreigners challenging the framing of charges against them for attending the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi's Nizamuddin by allegedly being negligent and disobeying the government's COVID-19 guidelines.

Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Yadav said sufficient material was placed by the police before the magistrate court to frame charges under the Epidemic Diseases Act, Disaster Management Act and sections 188 and 269 of IPC against the petitioners.


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