Tablighi: Foreigners told to leave pending trials

NEW DELHI: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Thursday told the Supreme Court that the foreigners, who opted to face trial instead of pleading guilty like others for attending the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at the Nizamuddin mosque here in March, may leave the country pending trials and the government intends to consolidate the cases pending against them in various courts of Delhi in one court and get them disposed within a month.

His submission came in the hearing post the orders by Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, allowing almost all 3,460 foreign nationals to make representations before authorities to challenge their visa cancellation orders.

Justice Khanwilkar wondered how can they leave the country if the trials continue. "If more charges are added, then you can say only apology is not enough," he said. The Court decided to record the Solicitor General's assurances that the foreigners can leave India during the pendency of trials, after filling appropriate affidavits.

The Bench was hearing a plea filed by 34 foreign nationals challenging the decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to blacklist over 3,000 of them from travelling to India for a period of 10 years.

Mehta said out of 34 petitioners, the trial is over for 23 and they can go home whenever the flight are available. These 23 escaped trial by pleading guilty and paying some fine. In case of the remaining 11, nine cases are pending in different courts across Delhi.

Senior Counsel Chander Uday Singh, representing one of the petitioners, explained that the nine persons who chose to face trial did so considering conviction for an offence has severe consequences in their home countries. He said an affidavit of apology by them should suffice for a closure report in the court.

All foreign nationals are facing trial for the alleged commission of offences under u/s 14(b) Foreigners Act, 1946 r/w section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, r/w section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, r/w section 188/269/270/271 IPC.

In its affidavit, the Centre has argued that "participating in Tablighi Jamaat activities" was a serious violation provisions of the Visa Manual, 2019 and is also a criminal offence punishable under Sections 13 and 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946. Hence, the Bureau of Immigration under the MHA was directed to blacklist these individuals under Category A.

On July 9, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gurmohina Kaur granted bail to foreign nationals from 21 countries. They belonged to Australia, Algeria, Afghanistan, Brazil, China, USA, Ukraine, Australia, Egypt, Russia, Belgium, Jordan, France, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Tunisia, UK, Fiji, Sudan, Philippines, and Ethiopia.

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