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‘Free SIMI dangerous’

The SC stayed the August 5 order of the tribunal after the Additional Solicitor General contended that it would lead to “serious consequences” if SIMI was allowed to operate freely, reports Satya Prakash.

india Updated: Aug 07, 2008 00:18 IST
Satya Prakash

The ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) would continue for now as the Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed a designated tribunal’s order quashing the centre’s notification proscribing it under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, K.G. Balakrishnan, stayed the August 5 order of the tribunal after Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium contended that it would lead to “serious consequences” if SIMI was allowed to operate freely. The court also issued notice to SIMI and posted the matter for hearing after three weeks. The order staying the tribunal’s decision would remain in force till the next date.

In its petition challenging the tribunal’s order, the Centre said: “SIMI is against the Indian nationalism and works to replace it with the International Islamic Order.”

It said: “SIMI is known to have launched a countrywide campaign since November 1996 to mobilise support for the Muslims to establish Caliphate for Muslim community.” Financially sound, the organisation was active in 13 states, including Delhi, and involved in several terrorist and disruptive activities, it added.

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal headed by Justice Gita Mittal of the Delhi High Court had quashed the February 2008 notification banning SIMI. The organisation was first banned in 2001 and since then the ban is being extended every two year. The ASG said the tribunal has lifted the ban on a technical ground without properly evaluating the evidence presented by the government, including the depositions of 77 senior police and Intelligence Bureau officials.

A home ministry official later said the tribunal had rejected their contention on the ground that the notification imposing the ban did not contain detailed reasons for SIMI’s proscription. The tribunal order acknowledges that its order was not on the basis of merits of the case. He said the tribunal ignored the cabinet not detailing intelligence inputs about SIMI’s illegal activities, besides the home ministry’s senior officials’ assessments and reasons for seeking a ban on SIMI.

UPA divided, BJP on offensive

The UPA stood divided on Wednesday over the ban on SIMI. The Congress favoured the continuance of the ban while the RJD and Samajwadi Party opposed it. The Congress did not agree with RJD chief Lalu Prasad and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s stand of a “no ban” on SIMI.

The BJP, on the other hand, has tried to link the SIMI issue to national security. “The inability of the government to furnish ‘fresh’ evidence to the Delhi High Court Tribunal raises serious doubts about the intent of the government to fight terror in such pressing times,” said BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy.

With Saroj Nagi and Shekhar Iyer