Supreme Court extends ban on SIMI by six weeks (Lead)

August 25th, 2008 - 8:31 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 25 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday extended the government’s curbs on the militant outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) by another six weeks.A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam allowed continuation of the ban on SIMI by extending its Aug 5 interim order which had suspended a Delhi High Court tribunal’s order scrapping the ban on the outfit.

The bench said even the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal, headed by Justice Geeta Mittal of the Delhi High Court, had observed “twice or thrice” in her ruling that there was sufficient material to warrant the ban on SIMI.

The bench adjourned the matter for elaborate hearing Sep 24.

The court move came after hearing preliminary arguments by Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam for the government and those of counsel Kamini Jaiswal for SIMI president Bashir Badra.

The tribunal, constituted under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, had quashed on Aug 5 the government notification, which had declared SIMI as an outlaw organization on Feb 7, 2008 for the fourth time and banned its illegal activities.

Justice Mittal had quashed the notification saying the government did not have sufficient evidence to justify the ban.

Dwelling upon the imperatives of continued ban on SIMI, Subramaniam reiterated his arguments saying the tribunal had lifted the ban without properly evaluating the government’s evidence.

He said the tribunal ignored the depositions made by 77 senior government officers, including those from the Union Home Ministry, Intelligence Bureau and intelligence chiefs of various states.

He also pointed out that the government had shown the tribunal even the top-secret cabinet note, put forward by the home ministry detailing various proofs and intelligence inputs about SIMI’s activities, besides senior ministry officials’ assessments.

It was on the basis of this note that the union cabinet had decided to extend the ban on SIMI for the fourth time in February.

Yet the tribunal ignored even the cabinet note while scrapping the ban on SIMI, Subramaniam said, adding that it quashed the ban even while saying “it does not express its opinion on the merit of various evidence”, which the tribunal must have done.

Subramaniam also pointed out that the tribunal did not give due importance to the fact that various tribunals headed by various other Delhi High court judges had been consistently endorsing the ban since 2001, when the SIMI was first declared an illegal outfit.

Jaiswal, however, supported the tribunal’s ruling saying it had rightly lifted the ban as the government had no clinching evidence against SIMI.

She said various courts of law in the country had acquitted several SIMI activists, who had been implicated by the government on charges of indulging in terrorism, for the want of evidence.

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