INDIA’S APEX COURT TO HEAR PLEAS OF BLACKLISTED FOREIGNERS INCLUDING 110 BANGLADESHIS
India's Supreme Court has said it would hear on July 24 the pleas filed by foreigners, challenging the federal government's orders that blacklisted more than 2,700 citizens of 35 countries from travelling to India for 10 years for alleged involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities.
It is estimated that 110 Bangladeshi nationals are in the list.
Hundreds of Tablighis had attended a congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz in New Delhi in March in the midst of Covid-19 outbreak in the city. The event was alleged to have contributed to the spread of the contagion in Delhi which is the worst-hit city in India.
A total of 259 Bangladeshis had attended the congregation.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Indian government, on Monday requested a bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar that the matter be adjourned for a week as pending cases against the concerned members of Tablighi Jamaat are likely to be disposed of in due course.
"Solicitor General submits that the pending cases against the concerned members of Tablighi Jamaat are likely to be disposed of in due course, for which reason, hearing of these writ petition(s) be deferred for a week," noted the bench, also comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna.
"List the matter on July 24," the bench said.
Four petitions have been filed by 34 individuals, including a Thai national who is seven months pregnant, challenging the government's orders of April 2 and June 4 by which 2,765 foreigners in India were blacklisted.
The petitions, filed through advocate Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi and drafted by advocates Ibad Mushtaq and Ashima Mandla, have contended that the en-masse blacklisting of foreigners without any opportunity to defend themselves is a "blatant violation" of Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the constitution.
The Indian government had earlier sought rejection of the foreign Tablighis' pleas and told the apex court on July 2 that it has issued individual orders on a case-to-case basis for cancellation of visas and blacklisting of 2,765 foreign nationals.
As per the information available, 205 FIRs have been lodged against the foreign Tablighi Jamaat members by 11 states and 2,765 such foreigners have been blacklisted so far, the Indian government had said in its affidavit.
Of these, visas of 2,679 foreigners have been cancelled, it had said.
The top court was also told by the federal government that 1,906 Look Out Circulars (LOCs) were issued against foreign Tablighi Jamaat members and 227 left India before the issuance of LOCs/black listing.
The foreign nationals had on July 2 informed the top court through their advocates that around 1,500 one-liner e-mails were sent to them with regard to cancellation of visas but there was no show cause notice for blacklisting from travel to India for 10 years.
The apex court had asked the petitioners to file a rejoinder affidavit to the government's reply and make appropriate representation with the competent authority with regard to deportation.
On June 29, the top court had asked the Indian Home Ministry to spell out its stand about the status of visa of these citizens from 35 countries.