New Delhi [India], October 3 (ANI): A sessions court at Saket Courts complex in Delhi on Saturday reserved its order on a criminal revision petition moved by 35 foreign nationals who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation against framing of charges against them.
Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Yadav decided to pass the order on October 6 after concluding the argument on the plea filed by the foreigners, who belong to several countries.
Advocates Ashima Mandla and Mandakini Singh, representing the foreigners, sought to set aside the order of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate dated August 24, as no prima facie evidence is made out and submitting that seeking shelter at Markaz was a mere force of circumstance.
Senior Advocate Rebecca John, who argued for the foreign Jamatis, said that all the international flights were suspended on March 19, 2020, Janta Curfew was imposed on March 22 further a nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25 so it was not possible for accused persons to move back to their countries.
On March 28, 2020, MHA issued an order to deport back the foreigners who tested negative for the novel coronavirus, but when foreigners tried to go back to their countries they were stopped at the airport. It was also submitted that these people were peacefully residing inside the markaz as they had no other place to stay. Markaz was not a public place as it was closed for general public.
Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Srivastava appeared for State and had opposed the revision petition moved against magistrate order.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gurmohina Kaur had recently framed charges against these foreign nationals for attending Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Nizamuddin, allegedly neglecting and disobeying government guidelines issued in wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
CMM had framed charges against several foreigners under Sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 (disobeying regulation) of Epidemic Act, 1897. The charges were also framed under Section 51 (obstruction) Disaster Management Act, 2005.
The revision plea challenged the order framing charges under sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act, Indian Penal Code and Disaster Management Act on grounds that no prima facie evidence is made out qua accused persons.
The plea said that the prosecution has levelled unsubstantiated allegations qua foreign nationals in connection with Tablighi Jamaat by making inaccurate statements alleging foreign nationals from Indonesia, Malaysia and other countries to have attended the religious congregation at Markaz and allegedly acting as coronavirus carriers.
"The followers of the movement from across the globe participate in the religious congregation at the Markaz every year. The details of the events are formalized a year in advance, for the convenience of the foreign nationals attending the same. This year the congregation was scheduled for early March 2020, well before the outbreak of COVID-19," the plea said. (ANI)