New Delhi: The Centre informed the Delhi High Court that the Nizamuddin Markaz case, and the controversy surrounding the alleged violations of Covid norms in early 2020, has 'cross-border implications'.
The Tablighi Jamaat congregation held in March last year immediately prior to the nation-wide lockdown had been used by several critics to degrade the organisation portraying it as an attempt to spread coronavirus.
The congregation that was ongoing at its premises at that time had the presence of hundreds of followers from different states and abroad who got stuck inside the compound due to the overnight lockdown declaration.
Several FIRs had been registered under the Epidemic Diseases Act, the Disaster Management Act, Foreigners Act and various provisions of the penal code in connection with the Tablighi Jamaat event held at the markaz during the lockdown last year.
The Union government on Monday told the high court that the case has "cross border implications" and the Nizamuddin Markaz premises can't be kept locked forever.
Many individuals booked under the various Acts for participation in the conference were subsequently released or given reprieve by different courts across the country and most of the foreign delegates were able to leave for home. However, the Markaz closure remained an unresolved issue before the court.
Justice Mukta Gupta, who was hearing the Delhi Waqf Board's plea to reopen the markaz which has remained shut since March 31 last year, asked the Centre how long it wanted to keep the building locked.
The judge said, " Some persons were in possession of the property. Due to the pandemic, an FIR was registered you take possession as case property. It has to be handed over. It can't be that the property is kept forever. What is your stand on the facts of the case? You tell me from whom you took it. How long will you keep it locked as case property?"
The Delhi High Court issued a notice on a plea filed by a member of the Managing Committee of the markaz and allowed the Waqf Board to file its reply to the Centre's affidavit. The case was posted for next hearing on November 16.
Counsel for the Waqf Board pointed out that the petition has remained pending for more than a year and clarified that his petition was regarding the release of the entire markaz property comprising the masjid, the madrassa and the residential portion.