New Delhi, June 5: The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe was not needed into the Tablighi Jamaat event at Nizamuddin Markaz here as the investigation by the Delhi Police Crime Branch into the event is at an advanced state.
“Probe by Delhi Police Crime Branch into Tablighi Jamat event at Nizamuddin Markaz at an advanced stage. It will be completed in time bound manner, hence plea for CBI probe does not merit any consideration,” the Centre said in an affidavit, as reported by The Indian Express.
The Centre also said there was no negligence or delay in dealing with the issue. “Markaz authorities were apprised of the situation on March 21 itself and told to send foreign and domestic participants back to their respective places, but no one paid heed. An audio recording purportedly by Maulana Mohd Saad, head of Tablighi Jamat, was found in circulation on social media platforms in which the speaker was heard asking his followers to defy the lockdown and social distancing and to attend the religious gathering of Markaz,” the govt added.
The Centre also quoted Para 87 of Visa Manual — a Missionary Visa granted to the foreigners “whose sole objective of the visit is Missionary work which doesn’t involve proselytisation. Under Visa policy, no visa is to be granted to preachers and evangelists who desire to come on propaganda campaigns.”
In the affidavit, the Centre also said that passports and copies of visa application forms of the foreign Tablighi Jamat participants “clearly show” they had obtained tourist visa or eVisa on a false pretext, adding that the MHA on April 2 blacklisted 960 of these foreign Tablighi participants.
On May 28, the Delhi police filed multiple chargesheets against the Tablighi Jamaat, its members and its chief Maulana Saad Kandhalvi. In March, authorities had raided the Alami Markaz of the organisation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area and evacuated more than 3,000 people staying there for a religious congregation.
Multiple members of the Jamaat were found positive for Covid-19 and several others who had fanned out across the country were alleged to have spread the virus. The Jamaat was accused of organising the event in violation of government orders to avoid gatherings in the wake of Covid outbreak, an allegation the Jamaat has denied.
Sources said the CBI has already taken all chargesheets filed by the Delhi Police in the case and also copies of case papers and other related details which include Delhi Police’s probe into Jamaat’s financial dealings through multiple bank accounts.
CBI is the third agency after the Delhi Police and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to register a case in the matter.
Last week, the CBI initiated a preliminary inquiry into the financial affairs of the Tablighi Jamaat which is being probed for “dubious cash transactions” and for concealing foreign funding from the government.
According to sources, a case was registered on the basis of a complaint from the Foreigners Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs alleging that the organisation has violated Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).
“The CBI has registered a PE against the organisers of Tablighi Jamaat and other unknown persons. On a complaint alleging that the organisers and trustees were indulging into dubious cash transactions by using illegal and unfair means and also in non-disclosure of receipt of foreign funds to competent authority,” CBI spokesperson RK Gaur had said.
On April 16, ED had registered a case of money laundering against the Jamaat. Following raids at the Jamaat Markaz in Nizamuddin in March, where it was found that over 2,000 Tablighi foreigners had come to India on tourist visas and over 800 had fanned out across the country engaging in proselytising activities, the Ministry of Home Affairs had blacklisted over 1,700 overseas members of the outfit for visa violations.
The first FIR in the matter was filed by the SHO of Nizamuddin Police Station with the Delhi Police Crime Branch early April. It had named seven people, including Maulana Saad, associated with the management committee of the Alami Markaz Banglewali Masjid, headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat outfit, for allegedly going ahead with a gathering of around 2,000 people at the mosque in Nizamuddin West despite warnings from agencies.