Today, the High Court of Karnataka has quashed the criminal cases against nine foreign nationals belonging to the Tablighi Jamaat on the condition that they immediately leave the country, following an undertaking that they won’t visit India again in the next 10 years and pay the fine amount levied by the competent authority.
The court, however, did not quash the case against seven Indian nationals on grounds of their case being on a different footing.
A single bench of Justice Krishna S. Dixit issued the direction while hearing pleas filed by the 9 foreign nationals questioning the legality of the criminal cases against them for violating the Foreigners Act, 1946.
The 9 foreign nationals included Farhan Hussain and three others from South Africa, Rejo from Indonesia, and Saleh Imran Ahamed from the United States and Ibrahim Jassy and two others from Gambia. They were arrested after engaging in religious propagation in Tumakuru after attending the Tablighi Jamaat at Nizamuddin in Delhi, which later became hotspot for the spread of COVID-19. They were thereafter blacklisted by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
It was claimed that these foreign nationals had come to India with an e-Tourist visa but carried out preaching of religious principles, for which a Missionary visa is required. However, according to advocate Mohammed Tahir, who defended the petitioners, there is no specific prohibition in the visas in question for preaching religious principles in the Tablighi congregation.
The court didn’t agree with the petitioner advocate and noted that by the very nature of these visas, what is not provided for in the visa, is deemed to be impermissible. The general principle is that what all is not prohibited is permissible for a natural person and what all is not provided for is impermissible for a juristic person, ordinarily cannot be invoked by foreign nationals.
Regarding the petitioner’s contention that criminal proceedings were initiated by the police, with the prejudice generated by the
Media propaganda, and for the statistical purpose of the State, the Court stated that it hasn’t found any material for entertaining such a baseless grievance after careful examination of the entire file.
The Court observed that a legitimate impression is that the police having stood tall, exercised a lot of restraint despite running a huge risk of COVID-19 infection and tolerating the attack/assault by the miscreants.
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According to the Court, it will be failing in its duty if it does not place on record a deep appreciation of the State Police for their yeoman service being rendered during COVID crises.
– India Legal Bureau