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23 foreign members of Tablighi Jamaat free to return home, Centre tells SC

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The Supreme Court today asked the Solicitor General what could be done to expedite the trial against the foreign nationals who attended Markaz Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Nizamuddin, Delhi, this year.

A three judge bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Sanjiv Khanna was hearing petitions challenging the blacklisting and cancellation of visas of foreign nationals who attended the congregation which was held in Nizamuddin, Delhi. Later, it become the epicenter for the spread of Coronavirus.

During the hearing today Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the bench that out of 34 Tablighi Foreign Nationals, trial is over for 23 and they have been permitted to leave the country when they get flights back home.

He further informed the Court that the 23 Tablighi’s have pleaded guilty and agreed to pay some fine. However others want to face trial. There are nine cases which are pending in different courts across Delhi, Mehta added.

What could be done for expeditious trial, asked the Supreme Court.

Mehta submitted that he can call the investigating officer, see where the matters are scattered and what the status is and seek instructions on the same.

Senior Advocate Chander Uday Singh appearing for the petitioners submitted that the 23 Tablighis have pleaded guilty under plea bargaining. However they are yet to get their passports. The remaining 9 did not plead guilty as conviction in their country has more serious consequences.

Singh further informed the bench that the remaining 9 will file an affidavit of apology after which a closure report will be filed by the authorities.

The bench had earlier stated that the foreign nationals can make representation before authorities. MHA had informed SC that due orders were passed in over 2,700 cases cancelling their visas and that criminal cases were pending against them.

The bench has listed the matter for next hearing on July 31 and has directed the Solicitor General to seek instructions on expeditious trial of the remaining Tablighi Foreign Nationals.

-India Legal Bureau

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