Delhi court grants bail to 122 Malaysian nationals

New Delhi: Delhi court on Tuesday granted bail to 122 Malaysian nationals, who were chargesheeted for attending Tablighi Jamaat Markaz at Nizamuddin in the national capital by allegedly violating visa conditions, indulging in missionary activities illegally and violating government guidelines, issued in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak in the country. They also filed applications for plea bargaining, which was listed for July 8 before a Metropolitan Magistrate for early disposal.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gurmohina Kaur granted the relief to the foreigners on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 10,000 and referred the application for plea bargaining to Metropolitan Magistrate Siddharth Malik. As per procedure, plea bargaining means an accused pleads guilty to the offence and prays for a lesser punishment.

During the hearing, all the foreign nationals who were staying at a hotel, were produced before the court through video conferencing. They were identified by the concerned official of the Malaysian High Commission as well as the investigating officer. The court further took cognizance of the 59 charge sheets filed against 956 foreign nationals belonging to 36 different countries in the case and summoned the accused to be produced on different dates through video conferencing

These individuals have also been booked for offences under sections 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 270 (Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 271 (Disobedience to quarantine rule) of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Foreigners Act.

"Accordingly, cognizance of the offences under section 14(b) Foreigners Act, 1946 r/w section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, r/w section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, read with sections 188/269/270/271 IPC is hereby taken. Let accused persons be summoned," the court said. The punishment for various offences under penal provisions ranges from six months to eight years of imprisonment.

The investigating officer told the court that each member has been allegedly found to have independently committed the offence for which they have been chargesheeted. The Centre has already cancelled their Visa and blacklisted them. The foreign nationals have not been arrested yet and are presently residing at various places approved by the Delhi High Court.

At least 9,000 people, including the foreign nationals, participated in the religious congregation in Nizamuddin. Later, many of the attendees travelled to various parts of the country.

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