The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court granted bail to 31 foreign preachers of Tablighi Jamaat. Granting bail to 31 foreigners -- 20 from Indonesia and 11 from Bangladesh -- Justice G.R. Swaminathan also asked the state and the central governments to facilitate their return to their homeland.
The 31 preachers of Tablighi Jamaat were arrested for violating their visa norms and indulging in religious preaching.
The court said the 31 foreigners are now eager to go back to their families and are willing to file individual affidavits admitting that they had violated the visa conditions.
They undertake that they will not enter India for the next ten years. They will make their own arrangements for return by coordinating with their respective Embassies and Consulates, the court said.
The court said the offences which the petitioners are alleged to have committed are not akin to those offences for which there are limitations for grant of bail.
"Even though almost seventy days have elapsed since their arrest, final report is yet to be filed," the court said.
According to the court, the prison term already undergone by them should be considered as sufficient punishment.
When the petitioners have already paid the price for their misadventure, to insist that they should continue to remain in India in prison-like conditions till the proceedings are concluded grossly offends the principle of proportionality and fairness, the court said.
Pointing out the right to leave a country during armed conflict or an emergency, the court said the current pandemic period is nothing different.
As the petitioners have already suffered enough for their transgression of law and there is prevalence of medical emergency, the petitioners are having the right to return to their native countries at the earliest opportunity.
Granting bail to the foreigners the court directed the Tamil Nadu Home Secretary to consider the proposal submitted by the management of Jamia Qasmiyah Arabi College, Washermenpet, Chennai to house the petitioners and pass appropriate orders.
According to the order, if the petitioners execute appropriate affidavits expressing their regret for having violated the visa conditions, proceedings against them shall be concluded by filing final reports recording the same.