The Delhi High Court has sought a detailed status report from Delhi Police on a batch of petitions by Indian nationals seeking quashing of FIRs and criminal proceedings against them for housing foreigners who attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation here last year allegedly in violation of COVID-19 norms.
Justice Mukta Gupta said the status report has to indicate the role of each accused and as well as the duration of their stay and whether the housing facility was given after or before the prohibitory orders issued by the authorities in view of COVID-19.
“Learned APP for the State will ensure that a detailed status report be filed before the next date of hearing, indicating the role of each accused and also as to when the alleged foreign nationals were housed in his house, be clarified so as to find out whether the accused gave housing facility after the notification was issued or prior thereto,” said the judge as the matter was listed for further hearing on November 12.
In February, the police had told the court that those who housed foreigners attending the Tablighi Jamaat congregation had been included as accused in certain FIRs lodged for the alleged commission of offences under the Indian Penal Code.
While some of the pleas for quashing of FIRs are by individuals who had provided refuge to the foreigners who had attended the event and could not travel owing to the subsequent COVID-19 lockdown, others are by managing committee members or caretakers of different mosques, accused of providing housing facilities to the foreign nationals in the masjids under the jurisdiction of Chandni Mahal police station.
In their plea filed through advocates Ashima Mandla and Mandakini Singh, 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 wherein unsubstantiated allegations have been embellished and exaggerated.