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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Tablighi Jamaat: Delhi court acquits all 36 foreigners facing trial on charges of breaking Covid guidelines

As many as 955 foreigners were chargesheeted by Delhi Police for allegedly violating visa conditions, indulging in missionary activities and not following the government’s Covid guidelines.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 15, 2020 8:32:46 pm
Tablighi Jamaat, Tableeghi Jamaat, PakistanThe Jamaat was in news in March after the Nizamuddin Markaz emerged as a hotspot.

A Delhi court Tuesday acquitted all 36 foreign nationals facing trial for allegedly breaking Covid-19 related guidelines by attending the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area.

The Jamaat was in news in March after the Nizamuddin Markaz emerged as a hotspot. As many as 955 foreigners were chargesheeted by the Delhi Police for allegedly violating visa conditions, indulging in missionary activities and not following the government’s Covid guidelines.

As reported by The Indian Express earlier, while a majority of foreign Tablighi Jamaat members had taken plea deals and left for their countries, 44 had decided to face trial in Delhi. Out of them, the court had earlier discharged eight members, stating that there was “no prima facie evidence” against them.

The court had also discharged the rest of the 36 under section 14 of the Foreigners Act and IPC sections 270 and 271. However, they were still facing charges under the Epidemic Act, Disaster Management Act and other IPC sections.

While discharging the eight national, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gurmohina Kaur had observed, “The entire chargesheet and documents attached thereto neither show his presence or participation at the Markaz during the relevant period. There is also no document on record to suggest that he was one of the participants involved in Tablighi’s work as are the allegations. Neither the copy of the register seized and placed on record, nor the list of SDM providing details of persons who were sent from the Markaz either to hospitals or quarantine centers, or the list of persons who were part of the Markaz and were tested for Covid, specifically mentions the name of the present accused, so as to even show his prima facie involvement or presence, as alleged in the chargesheet, at the Markaz. Even for this court to proceed further, there has to be some prima facie evidence against the accused, which is not so…”

The Delhi Police had opposed the discharge application of the accused persons by submitting that there was “sufficient prima facie evidence” in the chargesheet and documents to proceed against them. The police had submitted a Ministry of Home Affairs circular to state that the accused arrived in India on a tourist visa but were “were involved in Tablighi work” in violation of the visa manual.

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