Tablighi Jamaat Case: All 36 Foreigners Freed, Court Says No Proof
The court observed that the prosecution failed to “prove the presence of accused inside the Markaz premises”.
A Delhi court on Tuesday, 15 December, acquitted 36 foreigners who were facing trial for allegedly flouting COVID-19 and visa norms whilst attending a Tablighi Jamaat event at the Nizamuddin Markaz, which had around 9,000 participants in Delhi in March.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Saket Court, Arun Kumar Garg slammed the Station House Officer of Hazrat Nizamuddin Inspector Mukesh Walia, for lapses in identification of the accused and observed that the prosecution failed to “prove the presence of accused inside the Markaz premises” and noted “contradictions” in statements by its witnesses, reported The Indian Express.
According to the report, the court noted, “The SHO was aware of the actual number of persons gathered at Markaz since the beginning and still failed to take any timely measures to ensure dispersal of the said gatherings despite being aware of government guidelines.”
955 Arrested, 44 Chose To Go To Trial
The 36 foreigners were from 14 countries, including the US, Russia, the UK, France, Sudan, Tunisia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, United Kingdom, Thailand, Kazakhstan and Indonesia, reported The Indian Express.
Out of the 955 foreigners arrested, between 7 July and 21 July, 911 claimed plea bargains against fines between Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000. The rest 44, chose to go to trial. In August, eight foreigners were discharged in the absence of any “prima facie evidence”, and in November, the foreigners’ plea was allowed to seek deportation back to their countries after paying a surety deposit of Rs 30,000, reported Scroll.
The 36 foreigners were discharged under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act and Sections 270 and 271 of the IPC. They were charged under Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, Sections 51/58 (1) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and Sections 188/269 of the Indian Penal Code, reported The Wire.
The Delhi Police had submitted a Ministry of Home Affairs circular to state that the accused arrived in India on a tourist visa but “were involved in Tablighi work” in violation of the visa manual.
(With inputs from Indian Express, Scroll and The Wire.)
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