NEW DELHI – The Delhi High Court has made various suggestions, for ensuring speedy proceedings, to the trial court dealing with the cases involving foreign nationals who attended the religious congregation at the Nizamuddin Markaz earlier this year, including holding a case management hearing and firstly disposing of cases where the accused is ready to plead guilty or enter a plea bargain.
“Firstly, post all 48 charge sheets and 11 supplementary charge sheets, stated to have been filed, on the same date, for a case management hearing. At this hearing, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) may divide the cases into batches and sub-batches according to the nationality of the accused persons and/or offences alleged or on some other rational and useful basis,” a single judge bench of Justice Anup J. Bhambani said.
The court also said that after receiving response on whether the accused will plead guilty, enter plea bargain or claim trial, the CMM may segregate these matters based upon their responses. “Cases where accused are pleading guilt or entering plea bargains, may be disposed of first,” it proposed.
The court also suggested that for each of these stages, the bench may designate a specific date and time when exclusively these matters would be taken up, which could even be a non-working day, so that adequate time and resources could be devoted to facilitate expeditious disposal.
“The Embassy/High Commission concerned may be requested to arrange for the appearance of the accused persons via video-conferencing and also for identifying the accused persons as per official records/documents,” Justice Bhambhani said.
However, the judge clarified that these are only suggestions to plan out the logistics for further proceedings to better manage the cases, and the CMM shall be free to devise their own methods to deal with the cases efficiently and expeditiously.
The suggestions came in while the court was hearing two petitions seeking directions to expedite trial against 121 Malaysians and 11 Saudi nationals, filed by Fahrul Naim Bin Mohd Noor and Al Harbi Saad Nassar M., respectively.
The Malaysian man’s plea has sought the court’s direction to treat the proceedings pursuant to the filing of charge sheet regarding the 121 Malaysian nationals as urgent.
It also prayed the court for direction permitting these foreign nationals to go back to their country with appropriate conditions and undertakings that they shall return here to face trial and as and when called summoned by the court.
The Delhi Police’s Crime Branch is probing the matter and Deputy Commissioner of Police Joy Tirkey is supervising it.
The Crime Branch has named more than 900 foreign nationals in connection with the case, and the accused have been charged under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the Epidemic Diseases Act, the Disaster Management Act, and also for violating the prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The FIR in this regard was registered on March 31. The case pertains to a congregation at the Banglewali Masjid in Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin area in mid-March, in which a large number of foreign nationals had participated.