Observing that though the Covid-19 crisis has declined, but its prevalence is still there in the world, the Bombay High Court recently allowed a city-based man to return to Mumbai from Dubai after January 2021. The HC noted the prevailing restrictions on travelling of citizens from abroad and set aside a lower court’s order asking the man, an accused in a fraud case, to return immediately.
A single-judge bench of Justice Milind Jadhav was dealing with a plea filed by one Nadeem Ali, who challenged a Magistrate court's order directing him to immediately return to the city.
Notably, Ali was named in a fraud and forgery case in 2018. He was released on anticipatory bail by an Andheri Magistrate. He was also ordered to surrender his passport.
However, in 2019, Ali filed a plea before the court seeking his passport since he had secured a job of an air-conditioning mechanic in Dubai. He subsequently moved to Dubai after getting his passport and made another application seeking exemption from personally appearing in the court for two years, since his job contract was for the same period.
The Magistrate initially granted him exemption in 2019 and later extended it till September 2020. The court, however, refused to extend the exemption period further and ordered him to return to India immediately.
Before Justice Jadhav, Ali pointed out that his job contract is till 2021 and that he must be given an exemption till then. He further pointed out his inability to return immediately citing the ongoing restrictions due to pandemic.
Having heard the contentions, Justice Jadhav said, "Though the Covid-19 pandemic situation which has affected every sphere of life globally may be on the decline, still its prevalence is very much noticeable." "Apart from this reason, Ali's conduct, prima facie, is to be considered since after his bail, he moved a court seeking to release his passport so that he could seek a job opportunity abroad," the judge added.
The court further noted that the grounds pleaded by Ali seeking to continue in present job in Dubai for the sustenance of his family in the present COVID-19 pandemic situation is required to be considered and balanced with the sanctity of the initial orders of the Magistrate granting him exemption.
The bench accordingly quashed the Magistrate court orders asking Ali to immediately return to Mumbai. Justice Jadhav has now ordered Ali to return to Mumbai by January and appear before the trial court on February 1 and attend the hearings.