Two alleged members of the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) last month in connection with a 2006 case, were Monday granted bail by a Mumbai court which observed that being an absconder for a long time itself cannot be a ground to reject bail.
Ejaz Khan (40) and his brother Iliyas (48), were arrested on December 12 last year by the ATS, which said they were members of the banned organisation. The prosecution said the two men were absconding since 2006 when many were arrested on allegations of being SIMI members following serial train blasts in the city.
While opposing their bail plea, the prosecution said that they were doing “anti-social work”. It said that Iliyas, a Delhi-resident, was the zonal president of SIMI between 1999 and 2000. The prosecution said Iliyas had changed his residence 12 times since 2006, while Ejaz had changed it six times since then.
Lawyer OA Siddiqui, appearing for the two men, submitted before the court that the accused had been falsely implicated. He said the two were students in the city in 2006 and there was no evidence presented to show that they were SIMI members. He said the brothers had not absconded, but left the city for their native town Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh, as they were unaware that a case had been filed against them.
Siddiqui also claimed that the alleged literature seized by the ATS as evidence against SIMI members in similar cases, pertained to good manners and respecting one’s parents, which cannot be considered to be “objectionable”, “banned” or “anti-social” literature.
The court took into consideration that the 13 people arrested in the case had been granted bail. The last two persons to be arrested in the case were released on bail in 2008.
“…Absconding for a long time itself cannot be a ground to reject the bail application. Further, the offence is punishable up to seven years. Considering the nature of the offence, the punishment prescribed for it and the fact that they were not traced for more than a decade, by imposing stringent conditions so as to secure their presence, the application can be allowed,” additional sessions judge R M Sadrani said.
Both the accused were booked under several sections of the Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act that pertain to the penalty for being a member of an unlawful association and punishment for unlawful activities.
SIMI was first banned in 2001 and an extension of the ban was notified last year under the UAPA.
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