Tue 20 October 2020:
After failed attempts to charge them under the Epidemic Diaseas Act, the National Disaster Act and the Foreigners Act, police’s case under Bombay Police Act too falls flat.
The members of the Tablighi Jamaat, including 10 from Kyrgyzstan and 10 from Indonesia, were booked in the state of Maharashtra for attempted murder and culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The police also charged them under laws against spreading diseases and preventing disasters.
Ruling in the case, Metropolitan Magistrate RR Khan said: “There was no iota of evidence with prosecution to show any contravention of order by accused persons beyond all shadow of doubt. During imposition of lockdown and their ultimate shelter in mosque or nearby will not render them responsible for such contravention.”
The court found that the accused had not violated the lockdown or curfew.
The court after considering their evidence, observed, “The said witnesses were also not found in position to tell where and how the accused person were residing at the time of alleged offence.
Thus there is no iota of evidence with prosecution to show any contravention of order by accused persons beyond all shadow of doubt. During the imposition of lockdown and their ultimate shelter in a mosque or nearby will not render them responsible for such contravention.
There is no legal evidence adduced by prosecution to show that accused persons infringed the notification lawfully made under section 37 of Bombay Police Act.”
The foreign nationals acquitted by the court were directed to furnish fresh bonds of 10,000 rupees ($136) each after all previous bail bonds were cancelled.
Muslims in India were targeted in various parts of the country in April following reports that a local COVID-19 outbreak had occurred at a mid-March religious gathering in New Delhi organized by the Tablighi Jamaat.
In August, a court in the city of Aurangabad, Maharashtra quashed criminal proceedings against foreign and Indian nationals accused of flouting measures to stem the virus’ spread by taking part in congregational prayer in a mosque, saying they were made “scapegoats.”
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