The Sessions Court at Lucknow has acquitted/discharged 18 people, 11 of them Indians and 7 foreigners from Indonesia, who were accused of “intentionally spreading” the corona virus by attending the Tablighi Jamaat religious congregation at Nizamuddin in Delhi. (Mohd. Ahmed v. State).
The accused had been booked for offences under Sections 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) 270 (Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 271 (Disobedience to quarantine rule) of the Indian Penal Code, Section 3 of Epidemic Diseases Act (penalty for offence under section 118 of IPC) and Section 14(B) of Foreigners Act (penalty for using forged passport).
The Court observed that there was nothing on record to show that the accused had violated any ‘quarantine’ rules.
“All the accused are acquitted in the Criminal Case No. 0047/2020 at P.S. Shahganj, District Prayagraj from the charge for the offences leveled under Section 188, 269, 270, 271 of the Indian Penal Code, Section 14 (B) of the Foreigners Act and Section 3 of the Epidemic Act,” the Court ruled.
Advocate Zia Jilani appeared on behalf of the accused. It was contended that there was no evidence on record to prove that there was any motive on the part of the accused to spread the virus, as the accused had followed the directives issued by the local authorities all along.
The court accepted the same observing that “any news running on newspapers and news channels cannot be placed in the category as pronouncement of order by the public servant.
The case diary had described the absence of Covid-19 test by the accused on the basis of news reports running on newspapers and news channels.
On the issue of participation in religious activities by the foreigners, the court observed that there was no restriction on visiting religious places and “participating in normal religious activities unless preaching religious ideologies, making speeches in religious places, distribution of audio or visual display pertaining to religious ideologies, spreading conversion etc. acts not done.”
The Court also turned down contention of Section 14B Foreigners Act violation stating that there was no violation of Visa Rules.