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The Court today adjourned the matter, while also directing that the official MHA orders on the issue be submitted before it. The Bench noted today that what was before them was only a press release.
The Supreme Court today adjourned the plea challenging the decision of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to blacklist over 2,500 foreign nationals presently in India for a period of 10 years from travelling to India for their alleged involvement in Tablighi Jamat activities (Malana Ala Hadrami and ors. v. UOi and anr).
The Vacation Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna adjourned the matter to be taken up next on July 2.
The matter was adjourned after the Court was appraised that the Central Government is yet to receive a copy of the plea and that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta was making submissions in another matter. Advocate Rajat Nair appeared for the Centre today.
The Court also noted that no official MHA order of blacklisting has been presented before it. At the start of today's hearing, the Bench asked for a copy of the MHA order.
"What is before us is a press release. There is no official order by the Union of India."
Appearing for the petitioners, Senior Advocate CU Singh told the Court that no order had been served on any individual. He added,
"There is no order stating visas will be cancelled or the foreign nationals would be blacklisted. Their passports have simply been impounded. When such cases arose in High Courts, even there, no orders were submitted."
The Court responded that it had to see the official orders, and directed that the same be submitted.
"We need to see if case by case orders needs to be taken by the state government", the Court added.
Whereas Senior Advocate Singh pointed out that "There was no general press note about all foreign nationals" either, the Court orally observed that it needs to be shown that the petitioners' visas were cancelled by a competent authority on a case-to-case basis.
"Cancellation of visa needs to be in case to case basis. If competent authority has been approached, submit those orders", the Court said.
"Centre has to consider the plea on humanitarian grounds also", Senior Advocate Singh urged the Court.
The Court, however, clarified again that it has to see the orders first.
"But we need to see the separate orders", the Bench said.
While adjourning the matter to July 2, the Court also directed the Centre to clarify why the foreigners continue to remain in India till now, if they have been blacklisted. The Bench said,
34 individuals from 34 different countries had approached the Supreme Court challenging the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) order blacklisting over 2,500 foreign nationals, presently in India, for a period of 10 years from travelling to India for their alleged involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities
The lead petition in the case is filed by French national Maulana Ala Hadrami, filed through Advocate-on-Record Fuzail Ahmed Ayyubi. It states that the act of MHA was "unilateral" in nature and that the principle of audi alteram partem was violated as the foreign nationals were not heard. Resultantly, the nationals could not travel back to their country of citizenship.
Petition filed in Supreme Court
Hadrami states that like the other petitioners, he was quarantined in March 2020, and was released from quarantine only in late May. He is still at a facility and under restricted movements, without the avenue to go back to his home nation.
The plea states that by a press release dated April 2, the government had blacklisted 960 foreign nationals in India and further on June 4, another 2,500 were blacklisted.
It is contended that with the move to blacklist these foreign nationals, the State also directed the police authorities to initiate legal action against “violators” in their respective states.
This, the plea states, resulted in the further deprivation of personal liberty as the passports of these foreign nationals were impounded by immigration authorities to prevent such persons from leaving the country. FIRs were also registered against them
The petitioners thus urged the Apex Court to quash the MHA orders blacklisting nearly 3,500 foreign nationals, as it violates Article 21. They have sought the Court's help to allow their travel back to their countries of citizenship.
The Court had previously asked the petitioner to send a copy of the plea to the centre without issuing a formal notice.