The Delhi High court on Friday issued notice to Delhi Police on a plea seeking the quashing of FIRs against 10 Indian nationals associated with the Tablighi Jamaat, which had orgsed an event at Nizamuddin Markaz in the national capital in March last year amid COVID-19 pandemic.
A single Judge Bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait sought a response from Delhi Police and fixed March 8 as the next date of hearing.
The petitioners, through advocates Ashima Mandla and Mandakini Singh, stated that the said FIRs are untenable in law as the offence is not made out.
"As per the contents of the said FIRs, it has been alleged by the Police and authorities that these Indian nationals with other foreign nationals were staying inside Masjid, in alleged violation of the lockdown orders of the Central Government and Delhi Government. However, there is no whisper of either any religious/social gathering being held inside the Masjid or of the petitioners being COVID-19 positive," plea said.
It said that the allegations levelled in the FIRs against petitioners "have been manufactured only for bringing the allegations within the four corners of the criminal offence even when they are patently false and unsubstantiated."
"Without admitting to the veracity of the allegations levelled in the impugned FIRs, it is the humble submission of the petitioners that with the total ban on movement on March 22, 2020 (Janta Curfew), imposition of section 144 in New Delhi on March 24, 2020, and complete nation-wide lockdown directed by the Union of India with effective from March 25, 2020, rendered the petitioners remediless and they had no recourse but to continue staying inside the Masjid, until taken into institutional quarantine.
"Hence, the aggrieved petitioners cannot be charged u/s 188 IPC for merely residing inside a building, which happens to be a masjid. Thus, the said charges are liable to be quashed," the plea said.
The plea said that followers and members of the movement from across the globe participate in the religious congregation at the Markaz and the details of the events are formalized a year in advance, for the convenience of the foreign nationals attending the same.
This year the congregation was scheduled for early March 2020, well before the outbreak of COVID-19, plea mentioned.
( With inputs from ANI )
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