A tribunal headed by Delhi High Court sitting judge Justice Mukta Gupta will hold hearing from June 5 to 7 at Munnar, Kerala, to examine the validity of five- year extension of the ban on Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) notified by the Central Government on January 31 this year.
The Tribunal, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, was constituted by a notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on February 21, 2019.
As per Section 4(1) of the UAPA, a declaration of an association as unlawful by the Central Government should be referred to a Tribunal consisting of a sitting High Court judge within 30 days of notification of the ban. The Tribunal has to give its decision within six months of ban notification. Members of general public can give their views on the ban before the one-member Tribunal by bringing relevant materials on record with supporting affidavits.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand and Senior Advocate Sachin Datta are leading the team of lawyers representing the Ministry of Home Affairs in the matter.
In May, the Tribunal had held hearings at Pune, Aurangabad and Hyderabad. Neither the organisation nor its members have appeared before it so far. A person, claiming to be an ex-SIMI member, has filed an application opposing the ban. However, the Ministry has taken objection to it by saying that a person cannot participate in the proceedings claiming to be an ex-member.
In the hearing held at Pune on May 3 & 4, officers from the Maharashtra CID, ATS and Intelligence had stated that ban on SIMI was essential to maintain national security. They said that SIMI operatives had a hand in the 2001 Mumbai blasts, 2006 Mumbai local train blasts and 2010 Pune German bakery blasts.
A Maharashtra-based Muslim organisation, Mulnivasi Muslim Manch (MMM), had approached the Tribunal in its hearing held at Aurangabad on May 17 & 18 in opposition of the ban. Anjum Inamdar, president of MMM, said that SIMI members were trapped in false cases.
SIMI was banned in 2001, following the September 11 attacks in the US. The ban was extended from time to time. In the notification issued on January 31 extending the ban for another five years, the MHA listed 58 cases in which SIMI members were allegedly involved. These included the blasts in Bodh Gaya in 2017 and at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore in 2014, and the jailbreak in Bhopal in 2014.