A tribunal of the Delhi High Court has upheld the ban imposed on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and validated a Central government notification, issued in February this year, extending the ban for another five years.
The Indian government describes SIMI as a terrorist organisation and had banned it in 2001, shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, for two years. The ban was since extended from time to time. The five-year ban was first imposed in 2014.
The ban was lifted in August 2008 by a special tribunal, but was reinstated by the Supreme Court on August 6, 2008 on national security grounds.
The tribunal, headed by Justice Mukta Gupta, on July 29 had dismissed SIMI’s contention that the government had no fresh evidence against it to extend the ban for another five years and held that there were valid reasons to ratify the ban imposed by the government under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Pinky Anand and advocates Sachin Dutta, Rajesh Ranjan and Balendu Shekhar appeared for the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which had on February 21 issued a notification setting up a tribunal under the Act, after the five-year ban ended on January 31. The judgment has been sent in a sealed cover to the MHA.
Earlier, the tribunal, constituted under the UAPA, had issued notices to SIMI and its functionaries, asking them to explain why the organisation and its activities should not be declared unlawful. Under the law, the tribunal has to decide if there was sufficient cause to declare an organisation unlawful. The tribunal conducted its hearings in several cities across India, including Delhi, Pune and Chennai, and took on record the testimonies of various police officers and others to adjudicate the issue.
The Centre had said its decision was needed to bring the Muslim community into the mainstream by checking its “disgruntled” elements.