SC asks trial courts to expedite hearing in cases against foreign Tablighi Jamaat members

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New Delhi, Nov 2 (PTI) The Supreme Court Monday asked the trial courts to expedite hearing in the pending cases against foreign Tablighi Jamaat members for alleged visa violations.

A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna listed the pleas filed against blacklisting of foreign members of Tablighi Jamaat for attending the Nizamuddin Markaz congregation in the national capital for further hearing on November 20 and asked the lower courts to expeditiously deal with their cases.

Senior lawyer Maneka Guruswamy, appearing for some Jamaat members, said the pleas seeking discharge of eight people are listed before trial courts on November 10.

Another senior advocate C U Singh said that revisions have been sought by the authorities in cases where some foreign members of the jamaat have been discharged.

The courts should dispose of such petitions expeditiously, the bench observed.

'It has become a punishment for them, even after discharge the revision applications are filed, and matters will now be heard... They are not being allowed to go back to their countries,' Singh said.

The top court had earlier directed the Bihar government to move the Patna High Court to seek transfer of pending criminal cases against 13 foreign Tablighi Jamaat members for alleged visa violations before a trial court for quick disposal, preferably within eight weeks of their transfer.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, had said that he did not have any objection and the trial can be consolidated as done in Delhi where a court at Saket is hearing all such cases.

Prior to this, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that look out notices issued against some foreigners, who have challenged in the apex court the government's orders blacklisting several citizens of 35 countries for alleged involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities, have been withdrawn.

Mehta said the petitioners who are before the apex court would be 'free to leave' India subject to no other pending proceedings, including order passed by the court, requiring their presence.

As per the information available, 205 FIRs have been lodged against foreign Tablighi Jamaat members by 11 states and 2,765 such foreigners have been blacklisted so far, the Centre had said in its affidavit.

Of these, visas of 2,679 foreigners (including 9 Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holders) have been cancelled, it said, adding that the remaining 86 include Nepalese nationals who do not require a visa. PTI MNL SJK ABA SA