Residents kept Tablighi Jamaat attendees who violated prohibitory order in 2020: Delhi Police to HC

The city police said that the members of the Jamaat were residing in Nizamuddin Markaz from March 26 to March 31 but were found to be present in Chandni Mahal area on April 1.

Published: 04th January 2022 08:43 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th January 2022 08:43 PM   |  A+A-

Tablighi Jamaat members arrives at Old Delhi Railway station

Tablighi Jamaat members arrives at Old Delhi Railway station. (File photo| Shekhar Yadav, EPS)


NEW DELHI: The Delhi Police on Tuesday opposed before the high court here pleas for quashing FIRs against residents of Chandni Mahal area for hosting foreign attendees of Tablighi Jamaat congregation in March 2020, saying they gave shelter to the attendees who travelled from the Nizamuddin Markaz in violation of the prohibitory orders imposed on movement to contain the spread of COVID-19.

In a status report filed in response to the petitions by the accused to dismiss the criminal proceedings, the city police said that the members of the Jamaat were residing in Nizamuddin Markaz from March 26, 2020 to March 31, 2020 but were found to be present in Chandni Mahal area in Central Delhi on April 1, 2020.

The investigating agency said that the accused in the present set of FIRs admitted and accommodated the assembly of the Jamaat on their premises after the prohibitory order on movement was issued by authorities.

The counsel for the petitioners, lawyer Ashima Mandla, told Justice Mukta Gupta that the factual stand of the investigating agency was incongruous.

The judge granted time to the petitioners to file a rejoinder to the police's status report and listed the case for further hearing on February 28. "File rejoinder and written submissions on legal and factual aspects of each case. If facts are disputed, it may be a matter of trial," the court stated.

In the present set of matters, while some pleas pertain to quashing of FIRs by individuals who had provided refuge to the foreigners in their homes, others concern persons like managing committee members or caretakers of different mosques who provided housing facilities in the mosques under the jurisdiction of Chandni Mahal police station.

The FIRs were registered for alleged commission of offences under Section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), Section 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection) and other offences under the Indian Penal Code.

In the status report filed in one of the cases, the police stated that the charge sheet have been filed in the case and informed that numerous inspections were carried out in Nizamuddin Markaz during March 26-31, 2020 in connection with another FIR and the foreign nationals in question were found to be residing there.

However, in early April, it received information that several foreign nationals were residing in the Chandni Mahal area and after investigation, "it became clear that the members of the Jamaat had moved from the Markaz in Nizamuddin" which was in derogation of the prohibitory orders by the local authorities, the police claimed.

The status report stated that on March 24, 2020, the Centre had also imposed a nationwide lockdown. It added that by accepting and allowing them to reside in the local mosque without any social distancing, the accused also breached the Delhi government order on closing religious places.

In their plea filed through advocates Mandla and Mandakini Singh, two petitioners - Feroz and Rizwan, who had each provided accommodation to four women Tablighi attendees - have contended that shelter was given to them as they had nowhere to go during the lockdown.

Feroz, Rizwan and other petitioners have also contended that there is no documentation on record in either the FIR or charge sheet to indicate that they had been infected by COVID-19 and therefore, they could not have been accused of spreading the disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.

In his petition, Rizwan has alleged that the instant case is a classic example where unsubstantiated allegations have been embellished and exaggerated.

On a previous occasion, the court had questioned the Delhi police as to what offence was committed by the Indian nationals when they housed foreigners, who attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation last year, during a nationwide lockdown and observed that the government notification did not impose any bar on persons residing at any particular place.


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