Synopsis: The Supreme Court has directed that multiple FIRs filed in Bihar be consolidated and transferred to one court.
The Supreme Court, today, while hearing petitions from foreign nationals who attended the Tablighi Jamaat, ordered that the multiple FIRs filed in Bihar be consolidated and transferred to one court in the state. It is the task of the Patna High Court to decide which court will try the cases against foreign nationals. The High Court was given the time to do so over a week.
The Bench consisting of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and Sanjiv Khanna directed the Patna High Court to identify one specific court within a period of one week where all matters could be listed for hearing. The Bench further stated that the matter would be heard on a day-to-day basis to expeditiously wrap up the trial within 8 weeks.
Foreign nationals undergoing massive trial in various courts in Uttar Pradesh have also filed a similar application. The Bench, further asked the UP government to file a counter affidavit with its answer to the prayer for transferring all cases to one court.
The government of Uttar Pradesh is expected to file its response to a similar application for intervention in respect of FIRs filed in the state.
The matter was adjourned until 3 September.
The Court heard a plea filed by 34 foreign nationals challenging the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)’s decision to blacklist more than 3,000 of them for a period of 10 years from visiting the country.
The foreign nationals were facing trial for the alleged commission of offences under provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946, the Epidemic Diseases Act, the Disaster Management Act, 2005, as well provisions of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The Centre argued in its affidavit that participating in the activities of Tablighi Jamaat was a serious violation of the 2019 Visa Manual and is also a criminal offence punishable under Sections 13 and 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946.
The Bombay High Court quashed FIRs filed in August against 29 foreign nationals accused of violating visa rules for taking part in the Tablighi Jamaat. The Karnataka High Court also issued a similar order in August but added that the FIRs would only be quashed if the foreign nationals undertook not to return to India for the next ten years.