New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Monday directed the city police to handover the keys of the residential portion of the Nizamuddin Markaz to its occupants after it was locked by the authorities in the wake of an FIR in connection with the Tablighi Jamaat congregation there last year.
Justice Yogesh Khanna, who was hearing a plea by the mother of Jamaat leader Maulana Saad, directed that the keys be handed over to her within two days and clarified that for now, the occupants cannot enter any non-residential portion of the property.
The court issued notice on the plea challenging a trial court order denying access to the petitioner, a senior citizen, to her residence and sought a status report from police on the existence of any order on the locking of the residential premises.
In the meantime, let the keys of the residential premises be provided within two days from today. The petitioner is directed not to enter any other portion of the markaz premises till further orders, the judge said.
Admittedly there is no order of sealing or seizure of the premises and since April 1, 2020, the residential premise is lying locked, observed the court.
The court noted that the petitioner was living in the premises with eleven family members and said that they cannot be allowed to stay in guesthouses.
We cannot allow people to reside in guesthouses or any other place other than their own house, said the judge who further stated that preservation of site pursuant to a criminal proceeding did not mean locking up the place.
What is section 60 (of Evidence Act on oral evidence), section 310 (Code of Criminal Procedure on local inspection)? What sections have you put? Preserving a site does not mean you lock. Take photos and move from the site. What was recovered? Case was only that people were residing there, the court added.
Senior advocate Rebecca John, appearing for the petitioner, said that these sections were not applicable to the present case and that her client’s residence could not be snatched away.
Counsel for the prosecution, advocate Amit Ahlawat said that the residents were, at the relevant time, living in violation of the COVID-19 protocols.
In her petition filed through advocate Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi, the petitioner, Khadija, has said that on March 31, 2020, the entire Nizamuddin Mosque was vacated and locked for the purported purpose of sanitization and disinfection by the authorities and to extend utmost cooperation to the authorities, the keys of the Markaz, including the residential portion, were handed over to the Delhi Police on April 1, 2020.
Even though several months have elapsed since the handing over the keys, the petitioner or her family members are being prevented from entering or accessing their own residence, it said.
The petition submitted that neither the petitioner nor her family are aware of any orders made with regard to sealing of the property.
It said no such information was even verbally communicated as the premises had been stated to have been vacated for the limited purposes of sanitization and disinfection, in light of the pandemic of COVID-19.
It claimed that the investigation in the concerned FIR is running at a snail’s pace and any offence, if at all, was committed in the Markaz premises which was separate from the four-storied residential premises.
The matter would be heard next on December 9.