The Supreme Court on Thursday said all blacklisted foreign nationals who attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi in March can make individual representations before concerned authorities, Bar and Bench reported.

Thousands of Indians and hundreds of foreigners had attended the Tablighi Jamaat conference held in Nizamuddin area. It later emerged as a coronavirus hotspot. After the event, many participants returned home across the country while others travelled to meetings, raising concerns about the scale of the potential spread of infection.

A three-judge bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna were hearing a petition filed by 34 foreign nationals challenging the Centre’s decision to blacklist over 3,000 of them from travelling to India for 10 years.

During the hearing, the foreign nations requested the top court to deport them, saying they had not harmed national security by taking part in a religious gathering amid the nationwide lockdown to rein in the coronavirus pandemic. They argued, through their counsel Chander Uday Singh, that deportation is the normal action taken by any government for visa violations.

Meanwhile, the Centre clarified in an affidavit that individual orders were passed with regard to the cancellation of visas and blacklisting of the foreign nationals on case-to-case basis. On June 29, the Supreme Court had asked if it was a blanket directive or care was taken to hear and decide the merits of each case individually.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the blacklisting of an individual was a “sovereign plenary function” and no foreign Tablighi Jamaat member has been deported till now as they face criminal proceedings in the country. He added that “right of return” is not an enforceable right.

“They say case to case orders were passed,” Singh responded. “They say 1,506, emails were sent stating visa is cancelled. But no show cause notice was served. Moreover, these orders are not about blacklisting but only visa cancellation.”

Advocate Menaka Guruswamy told the court that the orders passed by the Centre against these foreign nationals were not sent to the petitioners.

The court asked the Centre to share the orders with the advocates of the petitioners. It also noted that since the Centre has passed individual orders, the petitioners may challenge the same before concerned High Courts.

The matter will be heard next on July 10. The judges asked the petitioners to file a rejoinder affidavit to the Centre’s reply and make appropriate representation with the competent authority with regard to deportation.