Center Tells SC,Personal Visa Cancellation Orders Against Foreign Nationals:Tablighi Jamaat

The Supreme Court adjourned the hearing in Delhi’s Nizammuddin Markaz on Wednesday, until 10 July, on the petition of foreign nationals for alleged association with Tablighi Jamaat activities.

A bench of the Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari & Sanjiv Khanna noted the affidavit of the Centre claiming that visa cancelations orders were given by individuals from foreign nationals, that the applicants are free to make representations before the competent authority with respect to the individual visa cancelation orders.

In spite of this, the Bench orally said that the petitioners would now seek respective high courts and thereby appeal the cancelation orders because individual orders have already been issued.

Justice Khanwilkar: UOI claims it has now been done-case by case and may not have been done before because it is not clear where it is located. Already, in the HC you are questioning them.

Nevertheless, CU Singh, a senior counsel, appeared to the petitioner(s), suggested that the individual visa cancelation orders were simply a liner and there was no proven cause note. “Strangers should be deported,” Singh said.

Nevertheless, General Solicitor Tushar Mehta clarified that if a criminal case is open against a foreign citizen, there is no enforceable “right to return.”

“When an offence is committed, foreign nationals must be prosecuted. These are summary courts,” said the SG. “Your rights to come home is rarely enforceable.”

In this sense, the Bench postponed the case until 10 July and allowed the petitioners to file statements of their rejoinder.

The Bench said:-

“If visas of these foreigners are cancelled, why are they still in India? You deport them. Also, tell us if there was just a general direction or individual orders sent to each one of them informing about blacklisting and cancellation of Visa.”

In its decision to blacklist as many as 960 foreigners from 35 countries who were resident in India, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) communicated on 2 April.

In parallel, orders for registering FIRs against these foreign nationals were given to Policial Directors General of all States and Union Territories (DGPs), as were also given to the Commissioner of Delhi Police (CP).

In view of the coercive and discriminatory ruling, the petitioners call on the Top Court to find it invalid and null.


The petitioners, all of whom have been blacklisted, submit that not only has the sudden decision led to FIRs being registered against them but has also resulted in them having to forfeit their passports to the State Administration. This, they contend, is a complete deprivation of personal liberty, without following procedure established under law.

One of the petitioners, it is informed, is in the seventh month of her pregnancy. She was quarantined in March and, after being released in May, continues to be in a facility with restricted movement, which denies her the opportunity to go home and give birth in comfortable surroundings with dignity and security.

The entire contention of the petitioners is that the Government “baselessly and arbitrarily passed a blanket ban on the aggrieved foreign nationals under the garb of alleged visa violations pursuant to alleged Tabligh activities, forcing such persons to remain in India under restricted movements…

…on a mere blanket presumption without any substantiation that they violated the conditions of their validly granted visas, under relevant sections of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Disaster Management Act, 2005.”

In furtherance of this contention, it is pointed out that the decision is based on the presumption of involvement in ‘tablighi activities’, but nowhere is it defined how these activities were prohibited or what led to the violation of conditions of validly granted visas.

Referring to the “General Policy Guidelines relating to Indian Visa“, as made available by MHA, it is pointed out that there is no restriction on foreigners visiting religious places or attending normal religious activities.

The petitioners also state that the Government issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on April 2 regarding the transit of foreign nationals stranded in India amid the COVID-19 outbreak. However, as a result of a short press release on the same day, the present petitioners could not benefit from the same.

Pointing out that constitutional rights against preventive detention extend to foreign nationals as well, it is urged that Article 21 of the Constitution uses the word ‘person’ and not ‘citizen’ to protect a foreigner’s personal liberty, which includes free movement across the country.

The petitioners, all of whom have been blacklisted, submit that not only has the sudden decision led to FIRs being registered against them but has also resulted in them having to forfeit their passports to the State Administration. This, they contend, is a complete deprivation of personal liberty, without following procedure established under law.

One of the petitioners, it is informed, is in the seventh month of her pregnancy. She was quarantined in March and, after being released in May, continues to be in a facility with restricted movement, which denies her the opportunity to go home and give birth in comfortable surroundings with dignity and security.

The entire contention of the petitioners is that the Government “baselessly and arbitrarily passed a blanket ban on the aggrieved foreign nationals under the garb of alleged visa violations pursuant to alleged Tabligh activities, forcing such persons to remain in India under restricted movements…

…on a mere blanket presumption without any substantiation that they violated the conditions of their validly granted visas, under relevant sections of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and Disaster Management Act, 2005.”

In furtherance of this contention, it is pointed out that the decision is based on the presumption of involvement in ‘tablighi activities’, but nowhere is it defined how these activities were prohibited or what led to the violation of conditions of validly granted visas.

Referring to the “General Policy Guidelines relating to Indian Visa“, as made available by MHA, it is pointed out that there is no restriction on foreigners visiting religious places or attending normal religious activities.

The petitioners also state that the Government issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on April 2 regarding the transit of foreign nationals stranded in India amid the COVID-19 outbreak. However, as a result of a short press release on the same day, the present petitioners could not benefit from the same.

Pointing out that constitutional rights against preventive detention extend to foreign nationals as well, it is urged that Article 21 of the Constitution uses the word ‘person’ and not ‘citizen’ to protect a foreigner’s personal liberty, which includes free movement across the country.

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