The Supreme Court has asked the Central government to assist 36 foreigners in going back to their countries after they were exonerated of all charges of flouting Covid-19-related guidelines by participating in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area.
A bench, led by Justice AM Khanwilkar, took note of applications made by the foreigners during a hearing on Friday and asked a government-appointed nodal officer to facilitate their return.
Senior advocate Menaka Guruswamy, appearing for the 36 foreign nationals from 14 countries, had put forth their pleas, pointing out that all these applicants were grateful to the top court for expediting their trial before a subordinate court.
When Guruswamy sought the intervention of the bench for the smooth departure of these foreigners, the court said that it would implore the nodal officer to process this request.
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“They may make representation to the nodal officer for facilitating their return to home country which may be processed appropriately and in accordance with law,” said the bench, which also included Justices BR Gavai and Krishna Murari.
The court, however, added that the direction to the nodal officer was independent of any decision to be taken by Delhi Police to challenge the acquittal.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta assured the bench that in case any foreign national who has been exonerated has any difficulty in travelling back, their lawyers may get in touch with his office for assistance.
The court also placed on record its appreciation for Mehta after senior advocate Salman Khurshid, representing some of the foreigners, commended the SG for rendering all possible help.
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On December 15, a Delhi court had dropped all charges against the 36 foreign nationals, citing lack of incriminating evidence. The trial court said that the prosecution failed to prove the presence of any of the accused inside the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat between March 12 and April 1, when the alleged violations took place.
Previously, the cases against eight other foreign nationals were closed after they paid the Rs 10,000 penalty.