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Supreme Court stays lifting of SIMI ban
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August 06, 2008 14:49 IST
Last Updated: August 06, 2008 19:11 IST

The ban on Students Islamic Movement of India will continue with the Supreme Court on Wednesday staying a special tribunal order lifting restrictions on its activities after the government warned of 'serious consequences' if the outfit was allowed to operate.

Investigators say Indian Mujahideen is SIMI, V2.0

The government moved the petition challenging the tribunal's order delivered on Tuesday before a bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan which issued notice to SIMI [Images] and posted the matter for hearing after three weeks.

Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium had to press hard to secure a stay on the tribunal's order as the bench was initially inclined to order status quo on the issue.

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The ASG said the tribunal set up under the Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act, in its 263-page order has not expressed anything on the merits of the case even when the government has provided Intelligence Bureau reports pointing towards members of SIMI indulging in terrorist activities.

"Being a group of students and youth, SIMI is easily influenced by hardcore Muslim terrorist organisations operating from Jammu and Kashmir [Images]. Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Tayiba have successfully penetrated into SIMI cadre to achieve their goals," the petition said.

In India, we don't catch terrorists

Subramanium objected to the tribunal's order, which said that it was not going into the merits of the case, saying when it was the merit which was to be gone into.

"Tribunal has done something over and above the law," the ASG said, adding that the order has to be stayed as 'it will have serious consequences'.

The tribunal headed by Delhi [Images] High Court judge Justice Geeta Mittal had on Tuesday quashed the February 7 notification of the Centre extending the ban on SIMI till 2010 saying no new evidence was placed against the organisation to justify the ban.

In the appeal, the Centre said that the tribunal failed to give due consideration to a Cabinet note, which was placed before it in a sealed envelope and also ignored the 'deposition of 77 witnesses', including top officials of the Intelligence Bureau and intelligence agencies from states.

It said that a serious error was committed by the tribunal in arriving at a conclusion that the background note prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs was issued a month after the February 7 notification, extending the ban on SIMI, to supplement the deficiency in it.

The tribunal ignored the opinion of the Centre that if the unlawful activities of the SIMI are not curbed and controlled immediately, the organisation will continue its subversive activities and disrupt the secular fabric of the country by polluting the minds of people and creating communal disharmony, the petition said.

The government contended that the tribunal order has been passed without making any observation on the merits of the reference and without appreciating the oral and documentary evidence on record.

SIMI, which was banned in 2001, has been under the scanner of security and intelligence agencies since then for terror attacks in various parts of the country including the recent blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad [Images].

The petition claimed that 'the financial position of SIMI is said to be sound' and is receiving financial assistance from its supporters in the Gulf.

"SIMI is against Indian nationalism and works to replace it with the International Islamic Order," the petition said.

The ban was first imposed on SIMI in 2001 under the Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act and since then it has been extended after every two years. The February 7 notification issued by the government was the fourth extension of the ban.

The government which maintains that the outfit is an unlawful association had placed before the tribunal the evidence of Malegaon blast in Maharashtra in 2006 to show the complicity of the organisation in unlawful activities.

However, the tribunal had refused to except it and said it was not sufficient to come out with the notification to ban SIMI which came into existence on April 25, 1977 at the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh [Images] as a front organization of youth and students having faith in Jamayit-e-Islami-Hind (JEIH).

The tribunal during the hearing had asked the government to present new facts to justify its decision to extend the ban.

SIMI had contended that there was no fresh evidence against it and the ban cannot be extended on the basis of previous evidence.

Initially, the tribunal had conducted the proceedings in an open court but later it decided to hear the matter in-camera in the presence of Home Secretary and senior IB officials.

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