Aurangabad division bench of Bombay High Court, comprising of Justice TV Nalwade and Justice MG Sewlikar quashed the FIRs against 29 foreign nationals who attended the Tablighi Jama'at event in Nizamuddin, New Delhi during the early months of the COVID spread.
The bench in its order on 21 August, quashed the FIRs and made an observation that the foreign nationals who had attended the event in March at Delhi, were made scapegoats and false allegations were levelled against them that they were responsible for the spread of COVID19 in India.
Tablighi Jama'at activity has been going on for more than 50 years and it is held throughout the year. Hence the propaganda against the so-called religious activity waas unwarranted and politically motivated. There was a big propaganda against the foreigners attending the meet at the markaz (center) located at Nizamuddin in New Delhi.
The order further said that the circumstances and latest figures of COVID infection go on to suggest that the action taken against the foreigners at that time was uncalled for. Those concerned need to repent for this action and take positive steps to repair the damage.
While the Maharashtra police acted mechanically, the state government was coaxed into taking action under political compulsion. Apart from the forein nationals, FIRs were also served against 6 Indian nationals and trustees of the masjid for giving shelter to the petitioners.
The bench refused to accept the claims of the prosecution that the petitioners were attemting to propagate Islam among the public ,saying that there is no proof to show that they were forcibly converting persons belonging to other religions, to Islam.
It further held that the foreigners were here for a particular duration with legal documentation and were permitted to visit the places they visited and stay in places they wished to stay during their stay in India. There was no order issued by any authority preventing Indians from accomodating persons in Masjids or supplying meals to anyone, including foreigners.