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Court orders opening of SIMI office

The Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) got relief from Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court when orders were passed to open the lock of its office situated in Vazeerbagh locality of the state capital. The bench comprising Justice Jagdish Chandra Bhalla and Justice Kamal Ahmad passed this order on a writ petition filed by advocate Javed Murtuza on behalf of the organisation. 

SIMI office was raided by Lucknow Police on September 17, 2001, and state president Hummam Ahmad and two others were arrested and the office was sealed. The arrested persons were booked under Section 151-107 and 116 IPC. This resulted in protests by Muslims as rumours were spread that the police had arrested members of Tablighi Jamaat who were staying in the adjacent mosque. Police resorted to firing without provocation killing 7 innocent young Muslims.

On September 27, 2001, the Union government issued a notification banning SIMI. Javed Murtuza took the case when almost all Muslim advocates approached by the aggrieved refused to take it. Murtuza filed a petition on behalf of Hummam Ahmad, requesting the court to reject the notification issued by the Union government banning SIMI and to order the opening of their office in Vazeerbagh. In the meantime, the Union government appointed a tribunal to decide the case of banning SIMI which in its order of March 26,2002, rectified the ban. SIMI has moved Supreme Court against this judgment.

After hearing the arguments of Javed Murtuza the bench ruled that since the tribunal had taken a decision on banning SIMI the court could not take any decision on the issue, but declared illegal the closure of SIMI’s office and instructed the senior superintendent of police Lucknow to hand over the keys of the locked office to Javed Murtuza the next day. Obeying the court’s orders the police handed over the bunch of five keys to Javed Murtuza the very next day.

When the locks were opened in presence of many witnesses it was evident that the police had ransacked it. SIMI office-bearers complained that many items including computer floppy, books, motor pump and Rs. 10,000 kept in the almirah were found. A complaint was lodged with the police. Apparently, raiding the office and before closing it the normal procedure of preparing an inventory was not followed. It seems the police personnel were sure that the office would never open again. So why to take the trouble of following normal legal procedure.

Additional city magistrate AK Singh accepted that the normal legal procedure of preparing an inventory before sealing any premises was not adopted in this case. Contrary to normal practice, the office was not sealed, but simply locked. However, after great persuasion Inspector Ram Naresh Verma accepted that the computer was brought to the police station "for investigation." About other items he showed ignorance. It is however clear that things were stolen. Murtuza said the responsibility for the security of the property rested with the police, who had clearly failed in their duty, incurring liability for compensation.

¯ Obaid Nasir in Lucknow

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