The Tablighi Jamaat religious congregation from Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz became the biggest cluster for coronavirus infections way back in March. The authorities have not taken the issue lightly. From incarcerating the members of the organisation to filing charge sheets against it for violating prohibition norms, the law enforcement authorities have ensured that the group is held accountable rightfully for putting several lives in jeopardy.
Now some of the Tablighi Jamaat members out of hundreds whom the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had earlier banned from entering India for a period of 10 years have approached the Supreme Court challenging the order.
Seven foreign nationals have approached the apex court, challenging their blacklisting by MHA and demanded that their visas be reinstated. Two of them hail from Thailand while there’s one each from Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Tunisia and Malaysia.
The petition was filed by the foreigners though advocates Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi and Ashima Mandala, who also sought directions to the Ministry of External Affairs to help the foreign nationals return to their respective countries.
Fareedah Cheema, a Thai national and one of the petitioners, is in her seventh month of her pregnancy. She alleged that she was quarantined in March along with the others but was released only towards the end of May. She further claimed that she was still at a quarantine facility with restrictions, and had no clue when she would be able to go back to her country and “experience her child’s birth with security and dignity near her loved ones”.
The petition also sought to declare the MHA decision as “arbitrary”.
“Unilateral blacklisting of 960 foreigners by the Home Ministry vide press release dated 2 April, 2020, and the subsequent blacklisting of around 2,500 foreigners as reported on 4 June, 2020, is in violation of Article 21. Therefore, it is void and unconstitutional as the petitioners have neither been provided any hearing nor notice or intimation in this regard,” the plea said, according to media report.
Notably, the Tablighi Jamaat congregation took place mid-March at its headquarters in east Delhi’s Nizamuddin, at a time restrictions were coming in effect in the capital to contain the spread of coronavirus. At one point, nearly 30% of country’s total coronavirus cases were linked to the Jamaat gathering.