After much hullabaloo, a meagre fine up to Rs 10,000 has been held good enough to let off foreigners who participated in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Delhi's Nizamuddin Markaz.
The 121 foreign nationals from Malaysia and 11 from Saudi Arabia pleaded guilty to their offences for violating lockdown rules and visa norms, following which they were punished only with a monetary penalty between Rs 7,000 and Rs 10,000.
Delhi Police, which had chargesheeted 956 foreigners after a lot of rumpus, did not object to the foreign nationals being sentenced only to fine.
The first flight could fly the first batch out as early as Tuesday next week.
Saudi nationals are expected to go back home on protective passes after a magistrate issued appropriate directions to the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) a day ago.
On Thursday and Friday, after the foreign nationals moved their applications for plea bargaining, metropolitan courts recorded "the mutually satisfactory disposition between the State and the convict."
The magistrates concerned accordingly allowed the applications and sentenced the foreign nationals to a fine between Rs 7,000 and Rs 10,000.
The foreigners were also given a token punishment of imprisonment till the rising of the court. This got over the same day and they were off the hook within hours.
The development has come after a clarification by the Delhi Police that none of the 956 foreigners had been charged under serious charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder or the attempt to commit the crime.
The foreign nationals then moved their bail pleas, which was also not resisted by the Delhi Police. Subsequently, applications for plea bargaining were filed by those out on bail. This time too, the Delhi Police did not oppose.
Four months on, fresh developments raise a pertinent question whether the entire exercise was futile.
The police, which filed a total of 48 chargesheets and 11 supplementary chargesheets, finally found favour with foreign nationals being exonerated only after a small fine.
Officers of the Delhi Police Crime Branch are currently busy in identifying the hundreds of foreign nationals so that they could plead guilty and be free while those, after having stuck for almost four months, must be heaving a sigh of relief.