NEW DELHI, JULY 14—The Supreme court has adjourned hearing till July 24 in a case pertaining to blacklisting and cancellation of visas of foreign Tablighi Jamaat activists who attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Markaz Nizamuddin in March this year.
A three-judge bench adjourned the hearing on a request from Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who demanded one week’s more time to submit details to the apex court’s notice in the case.
At the previous hearing, the top court observed that if the visas of foreign nationals were cancelled why were they not deported.
When the SG informed that there were criminal cases pending against them and they can’t be deported without completion of the trial, the apex court asked if the foreign nationals were issued notices regarding visa cancellation and their blacklisting individually or through a general order.
SG submitted before the court on Monday that the Centre required more time to collect information to respond regarding such a large number of foreign nationals.
The apex court granted one week’s time which was not opposed by the advocate-on-record of Jamiatul Ulema-i-Hind Fuzail Ayyubi in the case. Jamiat is fighting the cases of foreign Tablighis in different courts in the country.
In their petitions, Tablighis from 35 countries have sought that their names be removed from the blacklist, their visas be reinstated and they be allowed to return to their respective countries. They pleaded that the action of the Ministry of Home Affairs was “arbitrary”.
The petitioners said, “Unilateral blacklisting of 960 foreigners by the Home Ministry vide press release dated April 2, 2020, and the subsequent blacklisting of around 2,500 foreigners as reported on June 4, 2020, is in violation of Article 21”.
They also pleaded that the action of MHA was completely unconstitutional because they were neither allowed any hearing, nor any notice or intimation was given to them in this connection. Adv Fuzail Ayyubi said that only 17 foreign Tablighi activists were issued notices with regard to cancellation of their visas and their blacklisting through emails. He said that the Centre’s alibi that the whereabouts of the remaining foreign nationals were not available and hence, could not be issued individual notices, cannot hold water as all the foreign nationals were quarantined at government centres and the police and local administration was well-aware of their places of stay.
The MHA have blacklisted who attended the Tablighi congregation in Nizamuddin as they had violated visa rules and disobeyed the notifications issued pertaining to lockdown to contain coronavirus spread in the country.
Meanwhile, over 300 foreign Tablighis have been allowed to go back to their countries. Some of them are from Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Bangladesh and other countries.
They were allowed to ‘walk free’ after imposing monetary punishment ranging from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 10,000 under a plea-bargaining process in which the accused pleads guilty in exchange for lesser charges.