Tablighi case: all foreigners released, the court slams the police, does not give evidence

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi |

Updated: December 16, 2020 6:08:01 am

The defendants were from various countries, including the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Sudan, Tunisia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, United Kingdom, Thailand, Kazakhstan and Indonesia.

Noting that the prosecution failed to “prove the presence of defendants inside the Markaz premises” and noting “contradictions” in the statements of its witnesses, a Delhi court on Tuesday acquitted 36 foreigners in court for alleged violation of the lines. drives Covid while attending a Tablighi Jamaat event in Nizamuddin in March which has subsequently been linked to infections in 14 states.

During the approval of the order, Metropolitan Chief Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg recalled the station officer of Hazrat Nizamuddin, who was the complainant in the case, and the investigating officer for errors in identifying the accused.

Referring to the contradictions in the statements of the witnesses, the court acknowledged the likelihood of the plea of ​​some of the defendants that “none of them were present in Markaz during the reporting period and had been taken from different places in order to maliciously prosecute them on the indications of the Ministry. of internal affairs … “

“It is beyond the court’s understanding how the IO (Inspector Satish Kumar) could have identified 952 foreign nationals out of 2,343 people who, as per SHO, were found to breach the guidelines, without any Test Identification. Parade (TIP), but based on the list provided by MHA (Ministry of Internal Affairs), “the court said.

The court also noted that the SHO, Inspector Mukesh Walia, made improvements to his statement. “The SHO was aware of the actual number of people gathered in Markaz from the start and has not yet taken any timely measures to ensure the dispersal of those meetings, despite being aware of government guidelines,” he said.

“Otherwise, if he was not so aware of the actual or even approximate numbers of staying inside Markaz until the last day of the evacuation drill, he is in all likelihood falsely stating his daily visits to Markaz … Anyway , his testimony failed to pass the creditworthiness test and therefore his identification of the defendants in court is not sufficient to offload the burden of the prosecution of proving the defendant’s presence in Markaz during the relevant period “the court said.

The defendants were from various countries, including the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Sudan, Tunisia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, United Kingdom, Thailand, Kazakhstan and Indonesia.

Fahim Khan, the defendant’s attorney, welcomed the sentence and said his clients had been “falsely implicated”. “We claimed that out of 36, 10 were not even present on site. The police had filed documents showing their presence, which were contradictory. The prosecution could not prove that the accused did not keep social distances or break other Covid guidelines, ”he said.

The verdict was also welcomed by the accused. “We are happy with the judgment,” said Irfan Khan (39), an Australian mechanical engineer, who was on trial with his wife. Irfan said he came to Delhi to visit friends and religious places when he was detained. Like the other accused, he spent 60 days in a detention center before being transferred to court-approved accommodation.

“I knew that in India you can win a case if you defend it. In Australia, there was a judge who said that if you want the truth go to a masjid, if you want justice go to court. This inspired me to fight my case rather than accept a plea deal, ”he said.

The 36 were the last of the defendants from abroad who were tried in the case. According to court documents, 952 foreigners have been accused of infringing Covid violations by the Delhi police. Over 900 of them had pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal because they did not want to stay in India to face trial and wanted to reunite with their families.

The 36 are among 44 foreigners who have chosen to be tried on charges of violating visa rules and Covid regulations – eight were discharged from court in August after finding there was no “prima facie evidence” against them. their.

The trial began on August 10 following the indications of the Supreme Court and the final arguments were heard over three days from December 3.

During the trial, the prosecution claimed that “social distancing and other guidelines were not followed and large gatherings were held without following social distancing rules and other safety guidelines.”

Stating that the Covid regulations were in the public domain, the police argued that “the defendants attended and gathered inside the Markaz, both maliciously and through negligence, thus increasing the spread of the Corona Virus infection”.

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay up to date with the latest headlines

For all the latest news on India, download the Indian Express app.