Fifty-seven foreign nationals linked to the Islamic sect - Tableeghi Jamaat - have been found guilty of violating social distancing norms by a court in Haryana. While announcing the judgement, the court also ordered the state government to ensure their safe return to their home countries.
The court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) in Nuh district, about 330 km from state capital Haryana, was last week hearing a case filed by the district police.
According to the police, these members were found in a building on April 2 at Tauru Road, flouting social distancing norms that were a part of a district magistrate order on March 21.
A case was filed against them under sections 269, 270, 188, 120B of the Indian Penal Code or IPC and 14B, C Foreigner Act, 03-03-1987 Epidemic Diseases Act.
The accused were charge-sheeted under section 188 of the IPC and they pleaded guilty.
While holding them guilty, the court order read: "Accused has stated that he is a foreign national and he was not aware of the orders passed by the district magistrate of Nuh. In view of the Covid-19 pandemic and considering the allegations made against the accused, I sentence the accused to pay a fine of Rs 1000 upon accused for commission of offence under section 188 of IPC."
The order further says that if the accused fail to pay the fine amount, they will further undergo imprisonment of one week.
The court has ordered the Haryana government to take necessary measures for the return of 57 foreign nationals, since out of 59 - named by police- two accused are from Lucknow and Nepal.
"Since the accused is foreigner, authorities are directed through state of Haryana in the presence of learned APP that measures be taken for his safe return and SOP in regard to travel, and medical examination, in view of pandemic be followed."
The counsel for the accused, advocate Shaukat Ali, said: "The court deleted all these sections except the section 188 of IPC which is disobedience to order issued by a civil servant. We recorded the confession of our clients and urged the court for a speedy trial since the visa had expired for a few and for some the expiry date was close."
"Since the prosecution could not prove that the travel documents or visa of my clients were illegal, the court deleted the charges under Foreigner Act. Also the court was convinced that there was no ill intention of my clients to spread this disease," he added.
As per the latest information, the 57 foreign nationals (22 from Indonesia, 25 from Sri Lanka, 6 from Thailand, 2 from C~CHECK~te d'Ivoir, 1 from Senegal, 1 from Mozambique) are staying in Nuh district.