The Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to hear a petition seeking an investigation into alleged lapses in the Centre’s handling of the case involving 39 missing Indians who were later declared killed in Iraq, PTI reported. On March 20, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj had confirmed the deaths of the Indians who went missing in Iraq in 2014.

The government had been criticised for allegedly giving false hope to the families of the hostages.

Lawyer Mehmood Pracha had sought the High Court’s intervention in quashing a lookout circular issued against him by the Intelligence Bureau, which prevented him from going to Iraq. Pracha claimed his visit would have ensured that the missing Indians returned home safely.

The court dismissed the petition, citing that the lookout notice against him and the plea for an investigation were not connected. The judge advised him to file a fresh plea asking for an investigation. In his application to Justice Rajiv Shakhder, Pracha alleged that the Centre had disallowed him and his delegation of Muslim leaders from going to Iraq to prevent them from finding out more about the missing Indians.

Pracha claimed that his delegation would have urged the Iraqi government to ensure the safety of victims when they were reported missing. He had also sought Rs 10 crore in damages and a “public apology” from the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government.

In June 2014, it was reported that Islamic State militants had abducted 40 Indian labourers from a construction site near Mosul. Most of the victims were from low-income families in Punjab. One youth, identified as Harjit Masih, had managed to return to India. Sushma Swaraj had said 31 of those killed were from Punjab and four from Himachal Pradesh.

The Congress had then accused the Centre of using data theft allegations against it to divert from its failure to ensure the safety of the victims.