The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed a plea seeking a direction to transfer the investigation of a case lodged against Tablighi Jamaat leader Maulana Saad from the Delhi Police to the National Investigation Agency, reported PTI. The case is related to Saad holding a congregation in March in alleged violation of the orders against large gatherings to contain the spread of coronavirus.

A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh dismissed the plea after the petitioner sought permission to approach the Supreme Court seeking similar relief, according to Live Law. The bench said once the petition has already been filed in the Supreme Court with similar prayers, it cannot keep it pending in the High Court.

The petition filed by Mumbai-based lawyer Ghanshyam Upadhyay had also sought direction to the NIA to investigate the matter in a time-bound manner and that the inquiry be monitored by the High Court, alleging that the Delhi Police have failed to arrest the leader despite lapse of considerable time. “It is virtually impossible for Maulana Saad to hide himself for such a long time and that too in the capital of the country,” the plea stated. “Performance of Delhi Police has been pathetic from the very inception and outset.”

The Delhi Police had opposed the petition stating that they were already conducting the investigation and there was no need to transfer it to any other agency, according to Live Law.

The Delhi Police’s crime branch had on March 31 lodged a first information report against seven persons, including Saad, on a complaint by Station House Officer of Nizamuddin police station in Delhi for holding a congregation of Tablighi Jamaat in the Capital.

The congregation of the Sunni Muslim sect was attended by many foreigners and was blamed for thousands of coronavirus infections around the country in the initial weeks of the nationwide lockdown, which began on March 25. In September, the Centre had also informed the Rajya Sabha that the gathering led to a spurt in cases.

However, in the same month, the Bombay High Court had quashed a first information report against eight people from Myanmar, who attended the Tablighi event, saying that there was no evidence to show they indulged in any act that was likely to have spread the infection.

In August too, the Bombay High Court quashed three FIRs against 35 petitioners – 29 of them foreign nationals – who attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation and travelled from there to different parts of India. The court had said in its judgement that the foreigners had been made “scapegoats” and that the action against them was an “indirect warning to Indian Muslims” after the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.