The Delhi High Court on Monday directed the police to hand over the keys of Nizamuddin Markaz to its leader Maulana Saad as it rejected the law enforcement agency’s petition to continue restrictions on the mosque imposed after it held the Tablighi Jamaat congregation amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Live Law reported.

The mosque was closed on March 31, 2020, after the Tablighi Jamaat congregation that was organised at the venue was blamed for thousands of coronavirus cases around the country. The event had renewed the stigma against Muslims, triggering a wave of business boycotts and hate speech.

Several cases were filed against those who attended the congregation for reasons such as allegedly disobeying the government’s Covid-19 guidelines or violating the conditions of their visa. But courts have quashed most of the FIRs and acquitted the members.

In March, the court had permitted the mosque to hold prayers on five of its floors during Ramzan.

On Monday, the court said that the keys have to be returned to the person from whom they were taken.

“Are you in possession [of the keys]?” Justice Jasmeet Singh asked the police. “In what capacity have you taken the possession? The FIR was registered under the Epidemic Diseases Act that is over now.”

He also refused to adjudicate on an FIR for the title of the property.

The Delhi Police said that they have not been provided with the documents as to who the actual owner of the Nizamuddin Markaz is and that they can hand over the keys only to the person from whom they had taken possession, reported PTI.

While the police said Saad is absconding, a member of the Markaz’s managing committee stated that the religious leader is on the premises of the mosque.

The court has ordered the police to hand over the keys to Saad after he gives his identity proof. It also said that no documents about ownership are needed for the purpose.

The order was passed in response to the petition filed by the Delhi Waqf Board in 2021, seeking to reopen the Nizamuddin Markaz and remove the ban imposed on the public at Banglewali Masjid.

The police had filed an application in the case asking the Waqf Board and the mosque management to seek details of the ownership of land and building plan. They had argued that neither the Waqf Board nor the mosque committee was able to prove that the property was registered under the Waqf Act.