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Madras HC on Tablighi Jamaat Case: “They Have Suffered Enough”

“Merely because the petitioners have contravened the visa conditions, they cannot be seen as criminals”

The Tablighi Jamaat meeting that took place in Delhi was the cause of a lot of uproar in the media. The matter was used as a weapon to spread islamophobia all over the country. A lot of fake news and old video clip were circulated to dehumanize the Muslim community of the country. Since these Tablighi Jamaat meetings are a global event, many members were here from different countries. These foreign nationals have been facing criminal proceedings since then.

On 15th June, 2020 Madras High Court, in relation to the proceedings under foreigner’s act, has called for the closure of criminal proceeding against the foreign nationals. The bench said, “since the petitioners have already suffered enough for their transgression of law and there is prevalence of medical emergency, the petitioners are having the right to return to their native countries at the earliest opportunity.”

The bench also observed, “The petitioners fortunately have not tested positive so far. The position may be different tomorrow. The lives of the petitioners may be in danger. Times maybe uncertain but rights have to be certain. The petitioners are willing to bear the cost of transportation. They will coordinate with the embassies and consulates and arrange their return. All that the respondents need to do is to play a facilitatory role. Instead of doing so, if the respondents insist on detaining the petitioners and prosecuting them, it can only be characterized as unreasonable, unjust and unfair.”

Adding to the observation, the bench said, “I, therefore, hold that the continuance of the criminal prosecution against the petitioners herein would certainly amount to an infraction of their fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and directing their closure on appropriate terms alone would secure the ends of justice.”

In a commendable judgement, the bench said, “Merely because the petitioners have contravened the visa conditions, they cannot be seen as criminals. The situation calls for empathy and understanding. The petitioners are yearning to breathe the native air in their own ground.”

Taking into account the seriousness of the case, the court said, “failure to respond to the petitioner’s existential horror would amount to judicial abdication. If I come to the conclusion that the petitioners have suffered enough and that they are being put to ‘surplus of unnecessary suffering”, I am obliged to intervene”.

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