Around three months back, the central government had announced blacklisting of 960 foreigner Tablighis from 35 countries for allegedly violating visa rules.
NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court of India on Monday sought to know from the central government if individual orders for visa cancellation were issued to over 900 foreign Tablighi Jamaat members. The top court also asked the government if their visas were cancelled, why they are still in the country.
“If visas of these foreigners are cancelled, why are they still in India? You deport them. Also, tell us if there was just a general direction or individual orders sent to each one of them informing about blacklisting and cancellation of Visa,” the bench said.
According to Advocate Fuzail Ayyubi, Solicitor General sought two days time to file Centre’s reply. The court adjourned the matter for July 2.
The counsel for the Tablighi members told the apex court that the central government had issued only a general press statement regarding visa cancellation of these foreigners and no individual orders were issued to them.
On April 2, the Press Information Bureau had issued a press release from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs announcing blacklisting of 960 foreigners “for their involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities.”
“Under the directions of Union Home Minister, Shri Amit Shah, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has blacklisted 960 foreigners, present in India on tourist visas, for their involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities. MHA has also directed DGPs of all concerned States/UTs and CP, Delhi Police to take necessary legal action against all such violators, on priority, under relevant sections of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Disaster Management Act, 2005,” read the statement of the ministry.
However, even around three months have passed, most of them are still in jails across the country. Many of them had moved the top court seeking release from jails and permission to travel back to their home countries.
During the hearing in the SC today, Senior advocate CU Singh, representing the petitioners, apprised the bench comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna that the order for blacklisting was a general note issued for 900 persons and no individual notices were served on the foreigner Tablighis, reports LiveLaw.in.
“The matter should be examined on a humanitarian ground also. If there is visa violation, you must send them back to their country. Their home countries are asking for them to be sent back, embassies are also enquiring about this,” Adv Singh said. The government did not submit any response to the query raised by the lawyer. After the SC order during the last hearing on Friday (June 26), the petitioners had served a copy of their petition to the centre.
Senior lawyers Salman Khursheed and Fuzail Ayyubi were also present through video conferencing for the petitioners.
After the March 30 Markaz Nizamuddin fiasco, thousands of people belonging to the Tablighi Jamaat, including around two thousand foreign nationals, were rounded up and sent to jails or quarantine centres. Around 2,300 were taken out from the Markaz in Delhi – a few hundred of them were later found to be infected with Coronavirus.
The administrators of the Markaz were booked for holding the congregation violating the lockdown imposed by the central government on March 24. Later it became clear that these people had gathered at the Markaz days before the lockdown was announced and remained stranded there for one week as no public or private vehicles were plying on the road for transportation.