Centre Argues Against a CBI Probe in Nizamuddin Markaz Case; Negates Claims of Failure of Delhi Government

The Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA), in its affidavit before the Supreme Court, has clarified that no further CBI probe is required in the Nizamuddin Markaz case. From 13th-15th March, a large number of worshippers gathered for a religious event at Markaz. Moreover, nearly one-third of the COVID-19 cases are related to this event.

A Jammu-based lawyer, Supriya Pandita had earlier filed a PIL against NCT, Delhi. The PIL outlined the failure of the department in coping with COVID-19 pandemic that eventually spread in the entire nation. In furtherance, the Supreme Court ordered the Centre to submit its reply to the same. The MHA further clarified:

“The State is investigating the matter on a regular basis and in accordance to the law. The State is taking all efforts to finalize the report and submit it under Section 173 CrPC before the Court without fail”.

How the events unfolded

On 23rd March 2020, the Prime Minister of India declared a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days to tackle COVID-19 outbreak. According to the plea the Respondents were aware that social distancing was mandatory at Anand Vihar. Failing to control the crowding by migrant workers, the plea holds them in violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Additionally, the provisions of CrPC, 1973 and IPC, 1860 have also been infringed.

The plea focuses on the fact that 24 people tested positive between 15-17 March at the Markaz. Due to community transfer, many out of the 2000 delegates present at the gathering were tested positive. The plea underlines the subsequent negligence of the authorities (Respondent) to arrest the Markaz chief, Maulana Saad. He was responsible for organizing the event.

“No need for CBI probe”, says the Centre

The Centre has clarified that there is no need for any CBI-investigation for the Tablighi Jamaat gathering that subsequently intensified the case count for COVID-19 in India. The affidavit has also dismissed all assertions holding Delhi Police ignorant at the event of the gathering. Additionally, the Centre has made it clear that on March 28, Anand Vihar Bus terminal was crowded with people due to “misinformation”. It has denied all reports that claim that the crowd emerged due to negligence of the authorities.

The affidavit on behalf of the State Government, highlighted that the State has regulated a probe on a daily basis in accordance to the law. Moreover, the State is taking efforts to submit a report periodically.

The MHA stated that the authorities took all kinds of precautions. On March 21, they informed the Markaz coordinators to send all persons back to their homes, residing in or outside the nation. Yet, they disregarded the orders of the authorities. In fact, Maulana Saad even unabashedly circulated an audio clip for his followers to ignore the lockdown orders.

The MHA said in its affidavit:

“The Markaz organisers, including Maulana Saad, deliberately, wilfully and negligently ignored directions to remove crowds. An FIR has been registered”.