Acute absence of materials to proceed further: Jharkhand Court discharges 10 Indonesian Tablighi Jamaat attendees from Foreigner's Act charges

It is reported, however, that they were fined Rs 3,000 each on pleading guilty of the IPC offences charged against them.
Tablighi Jamaat
Tablighi Jamaat

A Jharkahnd Court recently discharged ten Indonesian nationals who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat convention at Nizamuddin, Delhi held at the time of the proclamation of the COVID-19 lockdown last March, from charges levelled under the Foreigner's Act (Abdullah Sudiana @ Abdulloh Sudiana & Ors v. State of Jharkhand).

The Additional District Judge-III (ADJ), at Dhanbad also discharged two Indian nationals who had guided the Indonesian attendees while they were visiting India for the convention.

"... there is acute absence of materials to proceed further and framing any charge u/s 14B, 14C/13 of The Foreigners Act 1946 and accordingly the petition made for discharge u/s 227 of the Cr.P.C. is allowed to that extent", reads the order.

The judge also remarked that the charges levelled against the foreigner-petitioners for their overstay in India was only on account of the COVID-19 lockdown proclaimed last March.

"So far overstay in India is concerned, these accused persons had their valid Visa within which they have to live in India which had not expired and only because of the lockdown proclaimed by the Central Government followed by the State Government, they overstayed. Had the lockdown was not proclaimed then these accused persons could never have been subject to criminal case", the order reads.

However, as far as the charges levelled against them under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Epidemic Diseases Act were concerned, the ADJ pointed out that case would have to be tried by the Judicial Magistrate First Class. Accordingly, the ADJ transferred the case file to the Court of Judicial Magistrate Ritwika Singh.

It is reported that Judge Ritwika Singh on Tuesday imposed Rs 3,000 each on the petitioners, after they pleaded guilty to the charges. Further, the case has been reportedly disposed of on these terms, leaving the foreigner petitioners at liberty to return to their country.

The petitioners had reportedly been arrested in April last year from Aasanbani Mosque, where they had been given shelter.

The case was taken up on priority by the Jharkhand Court in line with the Supreme Court's order passed last December to decide the same within two months' time.

The petitioners were represented by Advocate Shahnawaz Abdul Malik. APP PP Pandey appeared for the State.

Read the ADJ Order:

Abdullah Sudiana @ Abdulloh Sudiana & Ors v. State of Jharkhand.pdf
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