Bombay High Court quashes FIRs against foreign nationals of Tablighi Jamaat

The bench noted that there was big propaganda in print and electronic media against the foreigners who had come to Markaz.

Aurangabad: Quashing the FIRs filed against several foreign nationals in connection with the Tablighi Jamat congregation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area, the Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court has said that there is a probability that these foreigners were chosen to be made scapegoats in the matter.

In view of the discussion made by this Court, this Court holds that it will be abuse of process of law if the petitioners are directed to face the trial in aforesaid cases,” a division bench of Justices MG Sewlikar and TV Nalawade said allowing several pleas seeking quashing of FIRs.

The bench noted that there was big propaganda in print and electronic media against the foreigners who had come to Markaz Delhi and an attempt was made to create a picture that these foreigners were responsible for spreading COVID-19 virus in India.

“There was virtually persecution against these foreigners. A political government tries to find the scapegoat when there is pandemic or calamity and the circumstances show that there is probability that these foreigners were chosen to make them scapegoats,” the order issued on Friday said.

It said that the circumstances and the latest figures of infection in India show that such action against present petitioners should not have been taken.

“It is now high time for the concerned to repent about this action taken against the foreigners and to take some positive steps to repair the damage done by such action,” the bench said adding that the “government cannot give different treatment” to citizens of different religions of different countries.

Article 14 of the Constitution of India shows that there needs to be ‘law’ as mentioned in this Article and for some object, the classification can be made which needs to be reasonable. Such law can be subjected to the test of constitutional validity,” the bench said.

The ‘contents’ of ‘the law’ can also be sufficient to rebut the presumption of reasonableness for the classification and the rebuttal of the presumption of reasonableness is possible after consideration of even extraneous material,” it added.

The High Court observed that in “our culture, our guest is our god”, and noted that the circumstances of the present matter create a question as to” whether we are really acting as per our great tradition and culture”.

The allegations made show that instead of helping them we lodged them in jails by making allegations that they are responsible for violation of travel documents, they are responsible for spreading the virus. If there was any substance in the contention that there was a possibility of spreading the virus, proper actions would have been taken against them, to send them back to their own country without taking action like the present one,” the order said.

For the limited purpose, this court is holding that the police action is based on such instructions probably of the executive and apparently there is discrimination as mentioned above. On this ground also, the malice is inferable and the cases need to be quashed,” it added.

The High Court was hearing a batch of petitions challenging several FIRs registered in Maharashtra against many foreign nationals, who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi Nizamuddin area.

According to one of the FIRs in the matter, some foreign nationals who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation were taking shelter in a mosque in Ahmednagar.

The foreign nationals, who had come to India on tourist visas, were allegedly spreading COVID-19, spreading Muslim religion by giving speeches in mosques and had committed a breach of lockdown order issued by Collector, Ahmednagar, the FIR had said.

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