Supreme Court restores curbs on SIMI (Lead)

August 6th, 2008 - 9:02 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday restored the central government’s curbs on the terrorist outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), suspending an anti-terror tribunal ruling that lifted a ban on it Tuesday. A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice A.K. Mathur suspended the tribunal’s order on an urgent plea by the central government, which said “irreparable damage will be caused” to India’s fight against terrorism if SIMI was allowed a free run with its activists indulging in terrorist activities.

“SIMI is against Indian nationalism and works to replace it with an international Islamic order,” said the government in its plea.

“SIMI is known to have launched a countrywide campaign since November 1996 to mobilise support for Muslims to establish a Caliphate for Muslim community,” it said.

The New Delhi-based Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal, headed by Justice Geeta Mittal of the Delhi High Court, had quashed the government notification of Feb 7 which had declared SIMI an outlawed organisation for the fourth time and banned its activities.

Justice Mittal had said the government did not have sufficient evidence against SIMI activists to justify the ban.

Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanian, appearing for the government, contended before the chief justice’s bench Wednesday that the tribunal lifted the ban without properly evaluating the government’s evidence.

He said the tribunal ignored the depositions made by 77 senior government officials, including those from the home minister, the Intelligence Bureau and intelligence chiefs of various states.

The law officer told the bench that the government had shown the tribunal even the top-secret cabinet note, put forward by the home ministry detailing various evidence and intelligence inputs about SIMI’s illegal activities, besides senior ministry officials’ assessments and reasons for the ban on the SIMI.

It was on the basis of this note that the government 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, he said.

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, he added.

Subramanian 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 bans since 2001, when SIMI was first declared an illegal outfit.

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