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Supreme Court to continue hearing in pleas challenging MHA decision to blacklist foreigners of 35 nationalities

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The Supreme Court will continue its hearing in a batch of pleas against the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) decision to blacklist foreigners of 35 nationalities.

A three-judge bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Abhay S Oka and CT Ravikumar will hear the matter.

On April 8, the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had requested the Supreme Court two-judge bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice C.T. Ravikumar to consider the right of foreigners in approaching Indian courts in case if they violate visa conditions.

Advocate Soheb Alam appearing in the connected matter- Muhammad Hafizuddin Bin Zainal Abidin and Ors Vs. UOI and Ors., submitted that the proceedings before the Patna High Court have been disposed of and order passed against the petitioner has been quashed and he is in the process of leaving the country.

SG Tushar Mehta requested the court to consider the question involved in the matter and permit the submission of a 3-page note. Question being:

· When a country issues a visa and there is a violation of the visa conditions, what would be the rights of foreigners to approach Indian courts?

When Article 19 is not applicable to foreigners though Article 21 applies, what would be the scope of their rights to approach the local court?

SG Mehta requested the court to post it for hearing so that a law can be laid down with the assistance of the lordships in this regard which will have a long lasting impact meanwhile the counsels will file written submissions or points for arguments

The Court asked SG to file written submissions within a week.

On 24-01-2022 the counsel for petitioner(s) informed the court that no progress was made in the hearing of the writ petition pending before the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad pertaining to criminal cases registered in the State of Uttar Pradesh.

On 13-01-2021, it was submitted that 8 petitioners of the larger group of 35 petitioners from Delhi had been allowed to travel to their home countries. In respect of rest of the petitioners it was informed that they have been discharged as well but no revision application has been filed against them so far. K.M. Natraj, Additional Solicitor General, submitted that they may give undertaking/bond before the Revisional Court for consideration of their case.

Furthermore, some of the petitioners/intervenors had filed petition(s) under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code against the order refusing to allow prayer of plea bargaining, before the Allahabad High Court. The court request the High Court to dispose of the stated petitions expeditiously.

On 18-12-2020, Senior Counsel Menaka Guruswamy, counsel for the applicants-petitioners, submitted that 36 foreign nationals were discharged/acquitted by the concerned Trial Court. The court directed them to make representation to the Nodal Officer for facilitating their return to home country.

It was brought to the notice of this court that two FIRs were registered in the State of Jharkhand against similarly placed foreign nationals but trial had begun only in one FIR.

On 20-11-2020, the court was informed that eight petitioners who were discharged by the Trial Court are free to leave India and return to their home country.

Furthermore, matters related to State of Uttar Pradesh/Bihar were still pending even where the application for plea bargaining had been filed by the petitioner(s).

On 02-11-2020, the court considered the fact that revision applications filed to assail discharge of petitioners by the trial court, were slated to be listed on 07.11.2020 and 10.11.2020 respectively before the Revisional Court.

On 15-10-2020, ASG Natraj informed the court that though the eight persons have been discharged by the concerned trial Court, the State/Department has taken the matter before the Revisional Court and the same is still pending.

On 13-10-2020, Senior Advocate Menaka Guruswamy informed the Court those eight persons, who have already been discharged are being prevented from leaving India for their home countries.

On 04-09-2020, two fold grievances was submitted by the counsel for the petitioner(s) before this court. One, the criminal cases against them are still pending across the State of Uttar Pradesh. Though the concerned Courts have granted bail, they have imposed different conditions. Hence, there is no uniformity in this regard. Second, due to pendency of proceedings in different Courts, the accused in the concerned case(s) are facing logistical difficulties. Therefore the Court passed a similar order as passed on 01-09-2020.

On 01-09-2020, in respect to the criminal proceedings pending against the petitioners in the State of Bihar the court directed that formal application should be moved before the High Court to transfer such cases to one Court in district Patna and to expeditiously dispose of the concerned criminal case.

On 06-08-2020, SG Tushar Mehta informed the court that look-out notices issued against the petitioner(s) before this Court were withdrawn and that the petitioner(s) will be free to leave India. Further, he submitted that if the concerned petitioners tender apology, as envisaged by the Madras High Court in the concerned criminal case, the said petitioners can be permitted to leave India despite the pendency of the criminal case but subject to such orders that may be passed by the concerned Trial Court.

The court further directed that the criminal cases instituted against 10 petitioners pending in different Trial Courts in the NCT of Delhi be brought before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, South-East Delhi, Saket Court Complex, Saket.

On 13-07-2020, the hearing was deferred for a week on submission of the Learned Solicitor General that the pending cases against the concerned members of Tablighi Jamaat were likely to be disposed of in due course.

On 02-07-2020, the government informed the court that individual orders were passed by the department/competent authority on case to case basis regarding blacklisting/cancellation of visa but could not be served because of non-availability of details regarding whereabouts of the concerned petitioners.

On 29/6/2020, The Supreme Court directed the Ministry of Home Affairs to clarify its stand about the status of visa of around 2,500 citizens from 35 countries, who were blacklisted for ten years for their alleged involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities and to place on record whether individual notices were issued with regard to cancellation of visas of the foreign nationals. The court called for the government’s explanation as to why the foreign nationals were still in India when their visas are cancelled. Moreover, the court opined that in each case separate order needs to be passed for cancelling the visa. However, no such orders were placed on record.

Case Name- Maulana Ala Hadrami Vs Union of India

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