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SC: Clarify on visa status of foreigners blacklisted for Tablighi Jamaat activities

SC: Clarify on visa status of foreigners blacklisted for Tablighi Jamaat activities
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked Ministry of Home Affairs to clarify its stand about the status of visa of around 2,500 citizens from 35 countries, who were blacklisted for ten years for their alleged involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities.

The top court asked the Centre to place on record whether individual notices were issued with regard to cancellation of visas of the foreign nationals.

A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, which took up a batch of pleas filed by foreign nationals against their blacklisting for hearing through video conferencing, posted the matter for further hearing on July 2.

The bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and advocate Rajat Nair appearing for Centre that if visas of these foreign nationals are cancelled then the government should explain why they are still here in India but if their visas are not cancelled then it's a different situation.

Nair, who initially appeared for the Centre said that the copies of these petitions has not been served upon them, therefore they need time to file reply.

Senior advocate C U Singh, appearing for the petitioners said that they have served the copy of the petition upon advocate on record and added that blacklisting note was a general order for over 900 persons.

The bench said that the notification of Ministry of Home Affairs says the decision has to be taken on case to case basis by the authorities and it needs to be found out whether any such orders were passed.

Singh said that there should not be any violation of visa norms, now their native countries want them back and embassies are asking about them.

The bench said then let the Union of India make a statement on the status of their visa and told Mehta to find out whether any individual orders were passed for cancellation of visa of these foreign nationals.

At the outset, the bench asked Singh as when was the order for cancellation of visa was served upon them, to which he replied that it was a general order and no individual notices were given to them.

The bench said its understanding is that in each case separate order needs to be passed for cancelling the visa.

However, what is before the court is a press release and no specific order, it said.

Singh contended that as far as blacklisting or visa cancellation is concerned there was no individual order was served on any person and even during the hearing of bail applications before the High Courts, no such orders were placed on record.

On June 26, the top court had asked advocates appearing for petitioners to serve the copy to Centre's counsel.

Four petitions have been filed by 34 individuals, including a Thai national who is seven months pregnant, challenging the Centre's orders of April 2 and June 4 by which over 2,500 foreign nationals, who are currently in India, were blacklisted.

The impugned decision, by its very unilateral nature, infringes the principle of natural justice, particularly audialterampartem' by blacklisting the said foreigners present in India without first granting an opportunity of being heard or notice of any form, and resultantly depriving the aggrieved foreign nationals of their right of locomotion and travelling back to the country of their citizenship, said the plea filed by the Thai woman.

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