In the second such case in the city, Mumbai police have informed a court that charges under culpable homicide not amounting to murder and attempt to murder will be dropped against 20 foreign nationals connected with the Tablighi Jamaat in Andheri.
Two FIRs were registered by DN Nagar police station against 10 Indonesia and 10 Kyrgyzstan nationals in April. This week, the Additional Principal Judge of the Dindoshi sessions court dismissed a plea by the foreign nationals seeking that both the cases be heard by another court. It, however, directed that their discharge applications be heard and decided upon within a month.
Last month, both the separate cases were transferred before one court. The foreign nationals in their plea before the Additional Principal Judge submitted that the hearing on their pleas had been adjourned multiple times as the court was busy in hearing other urgent matters.
“It appears that due to lockdown and due to present case they (the 20 foreign nationals) are held up in India. So this case is also an urgent matter,” Principal Judge S S Sawant said. The foreign nationals through their lawyer Amin Solkar had submitted that they were visiting India with their spouses, leaving their families behind and had been stuck here due to Covid-19 at the mercy of others. They also said that if their cases are not decided on an urgent basis, “they would have to face undue hardship in future”. The court said that while there was no sufficient reason to transfer the case, it held that this case was urgent too and should be decided within a month.
Last month, the Bandra police had similarly dropped the two sections against 12 Indonesian nationals stating that there was no evidence to prove these two sections against the accused. The sections pertain to the allegations that they were responsible for Covid-19 deaths in the city.
The 20 foreign nationals had moved discharge applications before the court stating that these sections are not made out against them. In its reply filed by the police it was submitted that these two sections be dropped while they can be continued to be tried for other offences including those related to alleged violation of lockdown and visa rules.
Multiple cases were filed against Tablighi Jamaat members mainly foreign nationals who were visiting the country in February-March. Last month, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court quashed FIRs filed against 29 foreign nationals stating that there was no evidence of violations against them and that they were made ‘scapegoats’ and jailed instead of being treated sensitively during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a similar case in Nanded, a court in June ordered that the charge of visa violations be dropped against ten Indonesian nationals. A Navi Mumbai court had earlier this month discharged eight Philippines nationals. The Bandra group’s discharge plea is pending.
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