New Delhi [India], July 2 (ANI): The Delhi High Court has suggested magistrates dealing with cases against foreign Tablighi Jamaat attendees, to first dispose of cases where the accused persons are pleading guilty or are willing to enter plea bargains, in an expeditious manner.
A bench of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani asked Saket court's Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) to designate a specific date and time when these matters would exclusively be taken-up, which could even be a non-working day, so that adequate time and resources can be devoted to facilitate expeditious disposal.
The high court on Wednesday also suggested that first of all, the CMM may divide the cases into batches and sub-batches according to the nationality and other issues.
"Secondly, after cognizance is taken, at the appropriate stage, the CMM may segregate matters after eliciting responses from the accused persons as to whether they propose to plead guilty; to enter plea-bargain or to claim trial. Thirdly, cases in which the accused persons are pleading guilty or entering plea bargains may be disposed of first," the bench suggested.
The bench said that the Embassy and High Commission concerned may be requested to arrange for the appearance of the accused persons via video-conferencing and also for identifying the accused persons as per official records.
However, the court also clarified that these are only suggestions to plan out the logistics for further proceedings in the matter.
The court, while hearing two petitions filed by 121 Malaysian nationals and 11 Saudi Arabian nationals seeking speedy trial in the cases, said that the CMM is free to devise its own methods to deal with the cases efficiently and expeditiously, without detracting from procedural necessities of the law.
Notably, chargesheets have been filed against hundreds of foreign nationals who attended the Markaz Tablighi Jamaat congregation in the Nizamuddin area here, which had reportedly become an epicentre for the spread of coronavirus in the country.
Delhi Police Crime Branch Inspector Satish Kumar, who is the Investigating Officer, has informed the court that there are a total of 956 foreign nationals from 36 countries, in respect of whom 48 chargesheets and 11 supplementary chargesheets have been filed.
Advocate Rahul Mehra, senior standing counsel for Delhi government in criminal matters, upon instructions told the court that multiple chargesheets have been filed and the future course of the criminal trial would depend upon various factors including whether the accused persons or some of them, plead guilty or enter plea-bargains or claim trial.
Mehra submitted that Delhi Police is willing, if the need so arises, to request the District and Sessions Judge (South), Saket courts to mark the matters in batches to different Metropolitan Magistrates for expeditious disposal of the same, at the appropriate stage.
The CMM is scheduled to hear the matters pertaining to chargesheets on July 6.
The central government, on the other hand, told the court that once the criminal proceedings initiated against the petitioners are concluded before the competent court in accordance with the law, the Union of India would have no objection to the petitioners exiting the country. (ANI)