Mumbai: Twelve Indonesian nationals who had come to India around February-end, attended the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi and then found themselves embroiled in a court case in Mumbai, with 10 of them spending a month in prison before they got bail, were on Tuesday discharged from the case by a Bandra magistrate court.
The FIR had blamed them for infecting 504 persons and causing the death of 35 by spreading the Coronavirus infection in Mumbai. Offences of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and attempt to murder, which are punishable up to life imprisonment, were added at a later stage to those offences for lockdown and visa violations. Interestingly, only two among the group had tested positive for the virus.
While the order is not yet available, this is the second such instance after a Navi Mumbai court had discharged 20 Filipinos earlier this month in a similar case.
The police had dropped offences of culpable homicide and attempt to murder when filing the chargesheet, stating that during the investigation they had found no evidence that even a single person had been infected by these accused.
The other charges, however, remained. In their discharge plea filed through advocate Ishrat Khan, they told the court that they had come to India with a valid passport and allegations of violating lockdown rules were false.
For framing of charges, a prima-facie case is required, Advocate Khan told the court and that a perusal of the chargesheet shows there is no iota of evidence against the applicants. He said that the continuation of trial would be an abuse of the process of law.
It may be noted that in a similar case against 29 Tablighi foreigners in the state’s Ahmednagar district, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court had remarked while quashing the FIR against them that the foreigners were made scapegoats, the state government had acted under "political compulsions" and that there was a "big propaganda in print and electronic media" against them.