The Kerala High Court acquitted five Muslim youths who were earlier convicted by a special NIA court for holding an alleged secret meeting of SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) in 2006.
The NIA court had sentenced the first and second accused to 14-year rigorous imprisonment, while three other accused were sentenced to 12 years of jail term under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 124A (sedition), and provisions under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
A division bench of Justices A M Shaffique and Ashok Menon allowed the appeal by the five convicts, challenging the November 2015 verdict of the NIA court. The five were acquitted after the prosecution failed to produce evidence that the accused indulged in seditious speeches and distribution of anti-India materials at their meeting.
Those acquitted are P A Shaduly, Abdul Rasik, Ansar Nadvi, Nizamudeen and Shammi.
The incident relates to the event that took place on Independence Day in 2006. A group of Muslim men had organised a seminar on ‘The role of Muslims in the Indian Freedom Struggle’ at the Happy Auditorium at Panayikkulam in Ernakulam in Kerala. The program was reportedly held in public, and the organisers had distributed the leaflets related to the event, beforehand. However, at the middle of the event, the police took 18 people people into custody and accused them of holding a secret meeting of SIMI.
The court had earlier acquitted 11 others in the case.
In acquitting the accused, the court observed that all the accused were convicted based on the statement by a person, who had turned approver, and there was no adequate evidence. The charges against the accused, including treason, unlawful activities and being part of banned organisations would not stand, it said.
The bench also observed that the NIA special court has committed a serious error in convicting the accused.