Mumbai: The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has disallowed the prosecution to go ahead with case against eight Myanmar nationals booked for "Tabligh activities".
While quashing the FIR against the accused, the bench observed that "allowing the prosecution to continue would be nothing but an abuse of the process of the court".
While rejecting the allegation of the prosecution that they were engaged in illegal religious discourse or speech, violating visa norms, the court observed that the accused were not conversant with the local language and noted that there was no material produced by the prosecution to prove that the applicants were engaged in Tabligh work.
Regarding the allegation that the accused were spreading infection, the court noted that no records submitted by the prosecution could prove that the applicants, who had tested negative after they underwent Covid 19 test during their period of quarantine.
The court also criticised the police and the investigating agencies that they acted without jurisdiction in registering the FIR under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code based on a police complaint.
"The implication of the applicants herein for the offences punishable under Sections 188, 269, 270 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, Section 3 of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1987 and Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 would be an abuse of process of law".
The Myanmar nationals, who came to visit India and take part in religious seminars, were arrested while undergoing institutional quarantine at MLA hostel in Nagpur.
Last month, the Bombay High Court had quashed the FIRs filed against 29 foreign Tabligh Jamaat members who were booked under various provisions. Therein the court had observed that the Tabligh members were made "scapegoats" and criticized the "big media propaganda" against them after noting that they were "virtually persecuted".