No negligence in Tablighi meet investigation, Centre tells SC

The government’s reply came on a petition accusing the authorities of negligence.

The government has said that the Delhi Police investigation into the Tablighi Jamaat gathering at the centre in Nizamuddin amid the national lockdown was at an advanced stage.

The Ministry of Home Affairs denied the charge that the gathering took place because of delay or negligence on the part of the authorities. The Ministry promised that it would file a “comprehensive status report in a sealed cover” about the probe.

The government’s reply came on a petition accusing the authorities of negligence. A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde asked petitioner Supriya Pandita on Friday to file her rejoinder to the government affidavit. The Ministry said there was no need whatsoever to transfer the investigation from the Crime Branch, Delhi Police, to a central agency.

The 23-page affidavit said the Delhi Police had contacted the centre’s authorities as early as on March 21. It said the centre’s authorities were advised to take immediate action to prevent the spread of the virus. They were asked to send back the foreigners and others staying there.

The affidavit said an audio recording was circulated in social media “asking followers to defy the lockdown, social distancing and to attend the religious gathering.”

The centre’s authorities were told about the “menace and hazard” of the virus during a huge gathering. A meeting was also held by the Station House Officer with them. They also did not inform the health department about the huge gathering and “deliberately, wilfully, negligently and malignantly disobeyed the lawful directions promulgated” during the lockdown, the affidavit said.

With inputs from The Hindu