New Delhi: A Delhi High Court panel today confirmed the Centre's decision to extend by another five years the ban on Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and asked it to consider setting up a special tribunal to ensure that innocent persons are not booked.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal headed by Justice Suresh Kait, in its findings, referred to the speech made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha on fast-tracking of criminal trials involving lawmakers.
“The Prime Minister said that the trial against MPs be concluded in a year and if they are guilty then they should be punished or they can sit in Parliament without any taint....
“In view of this, the central government may consider constituting a special tribunal to ensure that only guilty persons are punished,” the tribunal said. The panel also rapped various state agencies for sending notices to persons in a “casual” manner to appear before the tribunal.
The persons, who have neither been a member to SIMI nor faced any criminal trial, have been served with notices, it noted.
“It is suggested that the central government should ensure that only connected persons should be served with the notices by the state agencies,” it said. The panel also said that the senior police officers, who have been deposing before it, are not well versed with the details of the investigation.
“Instead of Investigating Officers (IOs), who have investigated the cases, senior police officers have been deposing and they are unable to give details,” it said.
Justice Kait was appointed by the Centre to head the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal to conduct the proceedings, including deposition of various witnesses, to ratify or reject the five-year ban recently imposed on SIMI.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, on February 6 this year, banned SIMI for another five years beginning February 1, saying that if not curbed the group will reorganise and “disrupt the secular fabric” of the country. Extending the ban, the MHA, in its notification, listed 21 terror cases highlighting the alleged involvement of SIMI, including the rioting at Azad Maidan in Mumbai in 2012.
Earlier, one of the senior police officers of Chhattisgarh had deposed that some members of SIMI were involved in serial blasts in Patna rally attended by Narendra Modi during the election campaign.
The tribunal had also recorded the testimony of H A Rathore, a Gujarat police officer who deposed about the roles of some persons, who are in Sabarmati jail and facing trial in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts case.
He said that some of the accused, who had attempted to flee from jail by making a tunnel in February 2013, were also members of SIMI.
SIMI was formed in Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh in April 1977 and was first banned after the 9/11 terror attack in the US.
The Centre earlier had said that activities of SIMI continue to be “prejudicial to the integrity and security of the country” and the ban will continue to remain for five years more.
“The central government is of the opinion that if unlawful activities of SIMI are not curbed immediately, it will take the opportunity to continue its subversive activities and reorganise absconding members.
“It will disrupt the secular fabric of the country by polluting the minds of the people by creating communal disharmony, propagate anti-national sentiments, escalate secessionist activities by supporting militancy and undertake activities prejudicial to the integrity and security of the country,” the Home Ministry notification had said.
The MHA had also cited four cases registered in Hyderabad and two cases in Gujarat as grounds for extension of ban.