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SIMI bowling on a legal pitch
By Rizvi Syed Haider Abbas

Lucknow: The legal battle by Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) has started, with a writ petition challenging the legality and validity of the notification no. S.O. 961(E) dated Sep 27, 2001, banning SIMI has been filed in the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court.
The petition was filed under Section 226 of the Constitution by Mr. Javed Murtaza on behalf of Humaam Ahmed versus Union of India through Home Secretary, Uttar Pradesh and District Magistrate, Lucknow.

Humaam Ahmed is the UP Zonal president of SIMI. The petition was filed in the High Court on 23 Nov. It came up for hearing on 26 Nov. A division bench comprising Justice Jagdish Bhalla and Justice S.K.Singh ordered it to be listed on Dec 1, immediately after the filing of fresh cases. The hearing also could not immediately start because the Central Government representative Mr. BB Sexana was not available.

How are you going to wrestle the case? Look Section (3) of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967 says, any association indulging in a unlawful activity, it can be declared as an unlawful association, it is subject to confirmation by Tribunal. The flaw is that the Central Government has not given reasons showing urgency or immediacy for giving immediate effect to the ban, the arguments will be totally on legal and technical grounds,’ says Mr. Murtaza.

Mr. Murtaza has an impeccable legal background. His father Justice Husain Murtaza is a retired High Court judge and his brother Imtiyaz Murtaza has recently been sworn as a High Court judge. 

The legal suit between Mohd. Amir (SIMI activist) plus three others was stayed on 28 Nov. 2000 from Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court. Thereafter, the concerned petitioner approached the Chief Judicial Magistrate who granted him bail. 

Justice Jagdish Bhalla, it may be mentioned, had once set aside 'improper and defective' notification for the trial of eight accused in Babri Mosque demolition case. Those given the reprieve included Union ministers like L.K.Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati. It was a single-bench judgement headed by Justice Jagdish Bhalla at Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court.

With the atmosphere vitiating with 'anti-minoritism' in UP, this step is being definitely seen as an interesting initiative. Mr. Murtaza is confident: ‘once the ban is revoked, the plaintiff can approach the concerned authorities for challenging the enlisting of SIMI as a terrorist organization under POTO’ he sums up.

Muneer Deshmukh adds: Rakesh Munjal, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court, with his team of senior advocates Mr HP Singh and Mr Arjun Pant, filed the arguments on behalf of SIMI in the Justice Agarwal’s tribunal constituted by the government of India. The tribunal held its first hearing on the 1 December. After the filing of argument by Mr Munjal, time has now been given to the Union Home Ministry to file its rejoinder. The advocates also met SIMI President Dr Shahid Badr at Tihar jail who is detained with four of the organisation's members there in this connection.
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