The Centre has blamed Nizamuddin Markaz organisers for ignoring Delhi Police’s warnings about the situation arising out of the spread of the coronavirus.
In an affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court, the Centre said that Markaz organised a congregation of Tablighi Jamaat members in mid-March at its Nizamuddin headquarters by flouting all norms that were put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The Centre filed the affidavit in response to a plea filed by Jammu-based lawyer Supriya Pandit, who has sought various reliefs including CBI probe into the matter related to the assembly of people at Anand Vihar Bus Terminal and Markaz in Nizamuddin after a nationwide lockdown was announced. The petition also alleges that Delhi police have failed to control the people and the Nizamuddin Markaz chief Maulana Saad was still evading arrest.
The Centre’s affidavit says: “No one took account of the directions issued by the Delhi Police. On the contrary, as per an alleged audio recording of Maulana Mohd Saad, which was found to be circulated on social media, the Markaz chief asked his followers to violate lockdown and social distancing norms and continue attending religious gatherings.”
The affidavit further says that the risk presented by COVID-19 was conveyed to Saad and other members of Markaz management on several occasions during the meetings held in the police station but the organisation deliberately “disobeyed” the directions of authorities.
“Maulana Mohd Saad and Markaz management did not communicate about the organisation of a gathering to any health department or government agency. Written notices issued to Maulana Saad and Markaz management were ignored,” the affidavit said.
It added that the Markaz management was apprised of the coronavirus situation and risks associated with it on March 21 by Delhi Police. The Muslim seminary was asked to send back its foreign members to their respective countries and Indian members to their states. However, the centre says that management of Tablighi Jamaat turned a deaf ear to their instructions.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy allowed Pandita to file rejoinder affidavit to the reply of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and listed the matter for further hearing after two weeks.