The Centre has been asked to respond to a bunch of petitions challenging its order to blacklist more than 3,500 citizens of 35 nations for their alleged involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities. The Supreme Court, which heard the case today, asked the Centre to clarify if the cancellation of visas of foreigners attended the Tablighi Jamaat meeting, are individual or by a general direction. The Centre has to file its response by July 2, the next date of hearing.
The petitioners — who are foreign nationals currently in India — include a Thai national, who is seven months pregnant. They have challenged the Centre’s decision of April 2, by which 960 foreigners were blacklisted for a decade. On June 4, another 2,500 foreign nationals were blacklisted for 10 years from travelling to India.
They petitioners said the subsequent seizure of their passports without allowing them a hearing is an affront not only to their right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution, but also to the rudimentary principles of natural justice.
Lawyers for the petitioners had argued that the blacklisting order was a general note for 900 people. The court, however, pointed out that the Union home ministry notification says the decision has to be taken on case to case basis by the state authorities.
“If the visas are cancelled then you explain why they are still here in India. If the visas are not cancelled it is a different situation… Will have to find out whether orders were passed,” the top court told the Centre.
The petitioners have asked the court to declare the Centre’s move as arbitrary and unconstitutional, reinstate their visas and allow them to return to their respective countries.
Thousands of members of the Tablighi Jamaat, including foreigners, participated at a religious gathering at Delhi’s Nizamuddin markaz in March. Later, hundreds of them were found to be infected with coronavirus. The earlier dispersal of hundreds of members, led to a surge in the infection in various parts of the country.