Eight months after 11 state governments filed 20 FIRs against 2,765 Tablighi Jamaat members, not one member of the Tablighi Jamaat has been convicted. Instead, courts nationwide strongly criticised ‘malicious’ prosecutions devoid of evidence. We focus on Delhi, where most criminal cases were filed.
New Delhi/Srinagar: Eight months after 11 state governments filed 205 FIRs against 2,765 foreign nationals for allegedly violating visa terms and intentionally disregarding Covid-19 guidelines, not one member of the Tablighi Jamaat, a back-to-roots Islamic movement, has been convicted by any court.
Instead, at least 1,086 members of the Jamaat have been exonerated in some way by eight local and high court judgements, according to our review of media reports of such judgements. The terms the judges used include: a “virtual persecution”; “made scapegoats by a political govt”; “not an iota of evidence”; “abuse of process”; “abuse of power”; “maliciously prosecuted”.
On 16 December, a Delhi Court in Saket acquitted all the 36 foreign nationals that claimed trial by observing that it’s “reasonably possible” that “none of them was present at Markaz during the relevant period and they had been picked up from different places so as to maliciously prosecute them”. The court also said that there’s “no iota of evidence on record to suggest that the order promulgated under section 144 of IPC was brought to the notice of persons staying in Markaz”.
On 2 December, the Allahabad High Court ordered that a charge of attempt to murder to be dropped. It said such a charge reflected an “abuse of power under the law”.
On 19 October, a metropolitan magistrate in Andheri acquitted 28 foreign nationals of all charges by holding that the prosecution did not produce even “an iota of evidence to indicate the visitors had violated government orders”.
On 21 September, the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court quashed an FIR against 8 foreign nationals by holding that the “investigating agency acted without jurisdiction while registering the FIR for allegedly breaching Covid-19 advisories”. The court also noted that “allowing the prosecution to continue would be nothing but an abuse of process of the court”.
On 21 August, the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court called it a “virtual persecution” of the foreign nationals. While quashing the FIR against 29 foreign nationals, the court said these visitors were possibly made “a scapegoat of the pandemic by a political government”.
On 15 June, while discharging 31 foreign visitors, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court said “there is absolutely nothing on record to indicate that they had contributed to the spread of the novel corona virus”.
The magistrate said that station house officer H N Din, falsely claimed he visited the markaz daily and that “there was no question of any violation or disobedience by the foreign nationals of the order issued by the police under section 144 (prohibiting the assembly of four or more) of the CrPC”. The court also rejected the Delhi police claim that the foreign visitors violated section 50 of the Disaster Management Act by holding the congregation.
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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