The court was hearing a plea filed by 29 foreign nationals who were booked under various sections. The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court on Friday quashed FIRs against foreigners attending the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin in Delhi and said, “the Maharashtra police acted mechanically.”
A division bench of Justice TV Nalawade and Justice MG Sewlikar said, “It appears that the State Government acted under political compulsion and police also did not dare to exercise powers given to them under provisions of procedural laws and substantive laws. A political government tries to find the scapegoat when there is pandemic or calamity, and the circumstances show that there is a probability that these foreigners were chosen to make them scapegoats.
The court was hearing a plea filed by 29 foreign nationals booked under sections of Indian Penal Code, Epidemic Diseases Act, Maharashtra Police Act, Disaster Management Act, and Foreigner’s Act allegedly violating their Tourist Visa conditions by attending the congregation.
The 58-page judgment said, “The allegations are very vague, and from these allegations, the inference is not possible at any stage that they were spreading Islam religion and there was the intention of conversion. The Government cannot give different treatment to citizens of different religions of different countries.”
NRC and CAA Protests
There were protests by taking processions, holding a dharna at many places in India from at least from before January 2020. Most of the persons participating in the protest were Muslims. They contend that the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, is discriminatory against the Muslims. They believe that Indian citizenship will not be granted to Muslim refugees and migrants. They were protesting against the National Registration of Citizenship.
It can be said that due to the present action taken, fear was created in those Muslims’ minds. This action indirectly gave Indian Muslims warning that activity in any form and for anything can be anything’s Muslims. It was indicated that even for keeping contact with Muslims of other countries, action will be taken against them. Thus, there is a smell of malice to the action taken against these foreigners and Muslims for their activities. The circumstances like malice are essential when relief is claimed of the quashing of FIR and the case itself.
Role of Media
There was big propaganda in print media and electronic media against the foreigners who had come to Markaz Delhi, and an attempt was made to create a picture that these foreigners were responsible for spreading the COVID-19 virus in India. There was virtually persecution against these foreigners.
The circumstances and the latest figures of infection in India show that such action against present petitioners should not have been taken. It is now high time for the concerned authorities to repent about this action taken against the foreigners and to take some positive steps to repair the damage done by such action. The material of the present matter shows that the propaganda against the so-called religious activity was unwarranted.
In our culture, there is saying like “Atithi Devo Bhava,” which means that our guest is our God. The circumstances of the present matter create a question as to whether we are acting as per our great tradition and culture.
During the situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to show more tolerance, and we need to be more sensitive towards our guests, particularly like the present petitioners. The allegations made show that instead of helping them, we lodged them in jails by making allegations that they are responsible for violation of travel documents; they are responsible for spreading the virus