The Saket Court (Delhi) acquitted 36 foreign Tablighi Jamaat Attendees holding that the prosecution failed to prove the presence of the accused at the relevant time.
Judge Arun Kumar Garg, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Saket Courts was hearing a plea raised by one of the accused and remarked the defence that they were “picked up from different places so as to maliciously prosecute them upon directions from Ministry of home affairs, Govt. of India” was “reasonably probable”.
The court said that,
“..the prosecution has failed to lead any evidence of promulgation of the order u/s 144 Cr.P.C. by ACP, Lajpat Nagar in the sense that not even an iota of evidence about publication thereof so as to bring the same to the notice of persons staying in Markaz has been brought on record.“
The court further added,
“..even if it is assumed for the sake of argument that some of the accused are proved to have been found Covid 19 positive on different dates i.e. 01.04.2020, 09.04.2020 and 10.04.2020, in the absence of any symptoms at the time of their alleged stay at Markaz, they can’t be said to have been indulged in commission of any negligent act likely to spread infection.“
The court also observed that the testimony of the SHO concerned did not “pass the test of creditworthiness”. Hence identification of the Tablighi Jamaat Attendees by SHO was not sufficient to discharge the onus of prosecution to prove the presence of the accused at Markaz during the relevant period.