THE ALLAHABAD High Court has ordered that criminal cases against members of the Tablighi Jamaat registered in different districts of Uttar Pradesh be heard by three Chief Judicial Magistrates (CJM) of Lucknow, Bareilly and Meerut. In an order passed by a division bench comprising Justices Shashi Kant Gupta and Shamim Ahmed, the court observed that all the cases against the Jamaat members be heard and decided by the three CJM courts within eight weeks.
The court directed that cases pending in Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Prayagraj, Varanasi and Lucknow Zones be transferred to the Lucknow CJM. Cases pending in Agra and Meerut zones should be transferred to CJM, Meerut. Cases pending in Bareilly Zone be transferred to CJM, Bareilly, it said.
The court said records of all cases against Jamaat members be transferred to the respective CJM courts within two weeks of filing of the order, which was issued on September 30.
In the order, the court said that in a supplementary affidavit by the state, it said that of the total 188 cases lodged against Jamaat members, 15 cases registered at Sultanpur, Meerut and Jaunpur had been decided by the magistrates concerned.
The court directed the state chief secretary to transfer the cases pending against the members of Jamaat to the three CJMs of Lucknow, Meerut and Bareilly.
Several cases were registered against Jamaat members across the country after it was alleged that a congregation held by the Tablighi Jamaat at New Delhi’s Nizamuddin area led to the spread of coronavirus in different parts of the country. Several foreigners were also booked under the Passport Act and Foreigners Act apart from other charges related to not following quarantine rules and negligent act likely to spread disease.
A petition had been filed by Maulana Ala Hadrami and others in the Supreme Court. It had challenged criminal prosecutions instituted against members of the Jamaat. One of the grievances was that criminal cases are pending against Jamaat members across Uttar Pradesh and courts are granting bail and imposing different conditions, and that there is a lack of uniformity in the conditions. Another grievance was that due to pendency of cases in different courts, the accused are facing logistical difficulties. The apex court had in an order on September 4 said that the petition be heard by the Allahabad High Court.
The Bench ordered that the Registrar General monitor the progress of the cases transferred to the CJMs and submit a report within three months to the Allahabad High Court Chief Justice. The Allahabad HC has said the hearings by CJM courts be done through video-conferencing.
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