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New Delhi:

 
The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought a response from the Bihar government on the issue of consolidation of the ongoing trial of the Tablighi Jamaat members from Patna to Delhi.

A bench comprising Justices A. M. Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna asked the counsel for the Bihar government to file a response on this aspect and posted the matter for further hearing on August 30. Senior advocate Menaka Guruswamy, representing the petitioners, contended before the bench that the trial against a few foreigners was ongoing in Patna and urged the top court to consolidate it in Delhi on humanitarian grounds.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, contended before the bench that consolidation of the trials would come with its own logistical issues. Mehta said in Delhi, the cases were being heard by 4-5 different Magistrates. On August 6, the Centre had informed the Supreme Court that it has withdrawn the lookout notices issued against foreign nationals for their alleged involvement in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz.

On the status of the trials, Mehta informed the top court that 10 out of 34 petitioners have chosen to contest the criminal cases against them, instead of a plea bargain. He had suggested that the trials were in different courts in Delhi and could be brought before one court to fast-track the process.

On April 2, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) communicated the Centre’s decision to blacklist as many as 960 foreigners from 35 countries who were present in India. The petitioners had contended before the apex court that this decision was arbitrary and urged the court to declare it unconstitutional.

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