A Delhi court has directed Delhi Police to hand over the keys of the residential portion of the Hazrat Nizamuddin Markaz premises to the family of its chief, Maulana Saad. The premises have been locked ever since a case was registered against people who attended a Tablighi Jamaat congregation there in March, in violation of Covid guidelines. The Markaz had subsequently emerged as a hotspot.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gurmohina Kaur gave five days to the investigating agencies to inspect the premises before handing over the keys to Saad’s family.
The court was hearing an application filed by Saad’s mother Khalida. It further directed her and her family to give an undertaking that they would not obstruct the investigation in any manner and that only the residential portion of the property shall be opened. The family is not supposed to enter any other part of the Markaz.
It said in its order passed on September 11 that every citizen of India is entitled to the right to life and liberty under the Constitution, and the right to access residential property falls within one of the sacrosanct rights.
“It is nowhere disputed by the Special Public Prosecutor for the state, or from police officials concerned, that the applicant and her family are not residents of the residential portion sought to be unlocked. Further, no provision of law has been cited or shown to this court and no order has been produced to show under which provision the residential premises were locked since April 1.
“Even the SDM (sub-divisional magistrate) has today mentioned in his reply that their office never issued any direction for sealing of the said premises,” the court said.
It further said that as per documents filed on record, the premises were locked after sanitisation as per the directions of the SDM, and keys were handed over to police for facilitation as premises were required to be inspected by various agencies.
“Even though it is not mentioned in any of the replies filed that the residential portion is a scene of crime or whether it has been inspected by agencies concerned for the preservation and evidence purposes, this court will deem it appropriate to give one more opportunity to the investigating agencies to inspect the premises within five working days… Thereafter, keys should be handed over to the applicant (Khalida),” it said.
“Despite repeated opportunities and adjournments, police officials concerned have failed to produce any order or provision of law by which the residential premises were locked,” it said.
During the hearing, the public prosecutor argued that the property in question had not been sealed under any provision of law, but the premises sought to be unlocked were locked for the preservation of the crime scene and also for the purpose of investigation.
Most of the foreign Tablighi Jamaat members have left the country after entering into plea deals in court. Some have, however, decided to stay back and fight the case filed against them.
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