Visas of 2,679 foreigners who participated in Tablighi Jamat activities in alleged violation of rules have been cancelled so far on a case to case basis and individual orders were passed in each case, the Centre informed the Supreme Court on Thursday.
“As per information available, 205 FIRs have been lodged against foreign Tablighi Jamaat members by 11 states; (and) 2,765 such foreigners have been blacklisted so far. Besides, 1906 Look Out Circulars (LOC) have been issued against foreigner Tablighi Jamaat members so far”, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in an affidavit filed in Supreme Court.
People whose visas were cancelled include nine Overseas Citizen of India cardholders.
The MHA said 227 people had left the country before issuing of LOCs and their blacklisting, and that no one has been departed so far since criminal proceedings are pending against them. They will be deported as soon as legal processes are competed, the affidavit stated.
A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna was hearing a plea by some of these foreign nationals who have challenged an announcement by the ministry about their blacklisting.
The petition contended that one-liner emails were sent to around 1,500 of the foreigners regarding cancellation of visas, but there was no showcause notice for blacklisting them from travelling to India for 10 years.
The court posted the matter for further hearing on July 10 and asked the petitioners to file a rejoinder affidavit to the Centre’s reply and make appropriate representation with competent authority with regard to deportation.
Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the grant of visa is not a fundamental right, and that the foreigners had violated visa rules, The Foreigners Act, 1946, and may also have breached the National Disaster Management Act, 2005, for which they are liable to be penalised.
Senior advocate C U Singh, appearing for the petitioners, said only one-liner emails had been sent to the foreigners.
Mehta pointed out that 1,502 of those whose visas were cancelled held e-visas and were intimated by email about the cancellation, but the others who were on regular visa could not be informed since their email is not available with the Bureau of Immigration.
Mehta said that decisions regarding cancellation of visa, blacklisting, etc, are decisions taken by the executive as part of policy-making and are based on several considerations.
The bench told the petitioners that they can challenge the individual orders before the High Court if they want to. It asked the Centre to submit the orders passed regarding visa cancellation and also give copies to the petitioners.
The Centre’s affidavit also said that these foreign nationals are spread across various parts of the country, some of whom are still to be located, and hence execution of the orders would take place at the time of their exit at the port of exit.
The affidavit was filed in response to the top court’s June 29 direction asking the Centre to clarify its stand about the status of visa of foreign Tablighi Jamaat members, and whether individual orders were issued with regard to cancellation of their visas.
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