Seven foreign nationals have approached the Supreme Court, challenging the Home Ministry's decision to blacklist them for their alleged involvement in activities of the Tablighi Jamaat - the Islamic missionary group whose congregation in Delhi in March this year emerged as a major coronavirus hotspot.
The seven foreigners include two from Thailand and one each from Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Tunisia and Malaysia.
They have requested the Supreme Court to intervene and remove them from the government's blacklist which forbids them from entering India for 10 years. The petition wants the top court to declare the government decision as arbitrary and cancel it.
"Unilateral blacklisting of 960 foreigners by the Home Ministry vide press release dated April 2, 2020, and the subsequent blacklisting of around 2,500 foreigners as reported on June 4, 2020, is in violation of Article 21. Therefore, it is void and unconstitutional as the petitioners have neither been provided any hearing nor notice or intimation in this regard," the petition said.
Around 2,500 foreigners who had come to India to attend the congregation organised by Tablighi Jamaat in March were blacklisted for 10 years, the Home Ministry had said earlier this month. The event in Delhi's Nizamuddin area was accused of violating curbs on large gatherings.
Investigators had earlier charged the chief of the group Maulana Saad Kandhalvi with culpable homicide for its role in a big jump in COVID-19 infections in the country. He has also been implicated in a money laundering case.
The religious congregation was held at the Nizamuddin Markaz, the headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat in a cramped corner of New Delhi in mid-March.
Thousands, including foreigners from countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh, gathered at the mosque complex, and many stayed in a six-floor dormitory on the campus.
As members returned to their homes across the country, over 15,000 coronavirus cases with links to the Delhi event were reported, leaving states scrambling to track them down. Some foreigners were also arrested as they tried to leave the country.
The Tablighi Jamaat is one of the world's biggest Sunni Muslim proselytising organisations with followers in more than 80 countries, promoting a pure form of Islam.