Court acquits 20 foreign attendees of Tablighi event

Ruling that “there is no iota of evidence”, a magistrate court in Andheri acquitted 20 foreign attendees of a Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi who were booked by the Mumbai Police for allegedly violating lockdown rules.

Metropolitan magistrate R.R. Khan said, “The witnesses were not found in a position to tell where and how the accused were residing at the time of the alleged offence. Thus, there is no iota of evidence with prosecution to show any contravention of order beyond all shadow of doubt. During the imposition of lockdown, their taking ultimate shelter in a mosque or nearby will not render them responsible for such contravention.”

The court said there is “no legal evidence adduced by the prosecution to show that the accused infringed on the notification lawfully made under the Bombay Police Act.” It also directed them to furnish bonds of ₹10,000.

At 10 a.m. on March 29, informant SI Durgesh Harishchandra Salunkhe along with his associates visited Tayyaba Masjid, in front of Andheri subway, and came to know that 10 foreigners from the Kyrgyz Republic had arrived at the mosque after attending the Tablighi Jamaat’s Markaz in Delhi. The informant said they visited various places and people, spreading the COVID-19 infection. He claimed that they violated lockdown norms and infringed upon the orders of the City Police Commissioner.

The court said, “From the combined perusal of evidence of police officials and the prosecution, it is apparent that both of them have deposed that the accused have not committed violations of lockdown or curfew. Additionally, they have deposed that they neither entered the mosque nor noticed accused contravening lockdown norms. Ultimately, the prosecution witnesses themselves have clarified the position of the accused persons.”

They were charged under Sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (whoever unlawfully or negligently does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished), 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), along with relevant sections of the Disaster Management Act, Foreigners Act, Epidemic Diseases Act and Bombay Police Act.

Later, Sections 307 (attempt to murder) and 304 (2) (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the IPC were added. On June 17, a charge sheet was filed and the prosecution relied on the statements of two witnesses. On October 7, charges were framed.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2020 12:16:28 PM |

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