On April 2, 2020, around 960 foreign nationals and Tablighi Jamaat members were blacklisted by the Ministry of Home Affairs. These foreign nationals have been barred from entering India for the next 10 years, after the congregation was allegedly found to be held during lockdown. An order was also issued to register an FIR against all the foreigners.
Now, among those foreign nationals, 7 have moved to Supreme Court looking for their removal from the list, while at the same time questioning the constitutionality of the move by MHA. According to the petition, a further around 2500 names of foreign nationals were added in the list.
The plea states, “Unilateral blacklisting of 960 foreigners by the Home Ministry vide press release dated April 2, 2020, and the subsequent blacklisting of around 2500 foreigners as reported on June 4th, 2020, is in violation of article 21. Therefore, it is void and in constitutional as the petitioners have neither been provided any hearing nor notice of intimation in this regard.”
The 7 petitioners belong to different countries. Two are from Thailand, and one each from Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Tunisia and Malaysia.
The petition further states that, “The en masse blacklisting of foreigners currently in India without affording any opportunity to prima facie defend themselves, is an egregious and blatant violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, in as much as this sudden blacklisting has, apart from registration of FIR’s against such foreigners, led to forfeiture of their passports by state authorities. Thereby resulting in complete deprivation of their personal liberty sans procedure established by law”.
“The MHA baselessly and arbitrarily passed a blanket ban on the aggrieved foreign nationals under the garb of alleged visa violations pursuant to alleged Tablighi activities, forcing such persons to remain in India under restricted movements,” the plea added.