Tablighi Jamaat: 91 foreigners from 21 countries get bail

New Delhi: A Delhi court Wednesday granted bail to 91 foreigners from 21 countries who were chargesheeted for attending Markaz at Nizamuddin here allegedly in violation of visa conditions, indulging in missionary activities illegally and violating government guidelines issued after the COVID-19 outbreak. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gurmohina Kaur granted the relief to the foreigners on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 10,000 each.

The accused will file their plea bargaining applications on Thursday, said advocate Ashima Mandla, appearing for some of the foreign nationals. Under plea bargaining, the accused plead guilty to the offence, praying for a lesser punishment. The Criminal Procedure of Code allows for plea bargaining in cases where the maximum punishment is 7-year imprisonment; offences don't affect the socio-economic conditions of the society and the offence is not committed against a woman or a child below 14 years.

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 officials of the High Commissions/embassies of the respective countries as well as the investigating officer.

The foreigners belong to Afghanistan, Brazil, China, USA, Ukraine, Australia, Egypt, Russia, Algeria, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, France, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Tunisia, UK, Fiji, Sudan, Philippines and Ethiopia, said advocates Mandakini Singh, Fahim Khan and Ahmad Khan, appearing for the accused.

The court had on Tuesday granted bail to 122 Malaysian nationals booked in the case. They also filed applications for plea bargaining which was allowed by the court and listed before the concerned Metropolitan Magistrate Siddharth Malik for early disposal of the petitions.

The court had taken cognisance 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.

According to the charge sheets, all the foreigners have been booked for violating visa rules, violating government guidelines issued in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and regulations regarding Epidemic diseases Act, Disaster Management Act and prohibitory orders under section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure. 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 and then tested positive.

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