GHAZANFAR ABBAS | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI: After around two and half years in jail, 58-year-old Nazma Bi, who is facing charges of being alleged member of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and of waging war against the country, got bail from the Supreme Court of India on Monday (2nd July). Her bail plea was earlier rejected by a trial court and then by the Odisha High Court last year.
Nazma is a widow and has been languishing in the Raurkela jail in Odisha since the state police arrested her in February 2016 and filed cases against her under section 121 (Waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the State), Section 148, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Arms Act. The police slapped cases against her following a ‘raid’ wherein her only son Mahboob, 27, was arrested with four others who had allegedly fled from Khandwa jail in Madhya Pradesh in 2013. The raid was jointly conducted by the Madhya Pradesh police and Odisha police in collaboration with Telangana police and the Intelligence Bureau.
Mahboob and four others were among eight who later allegedly escaped from the Bhopal Central Jail in October 2016 and were gunned down by the police at the outskirts of the city.
The bail order issued by the Supreme Court on Monday reads as, “Without expressing any opinion on merits, the petitioner is granted bail to the satisfaction of the trial Court. The trial court may impose such conditions as may be considered appropriate to regulate the bail of the petitioner.”
Nazma’s counsel at the apex court, Advocate Mohammad Mobin Akhtar told Caravan Daily that in Feb 2016, the Madhya Pradesh police took her from her house in Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh to Raurkela in Odisha to identify whether her son was also among those five who were allegedly hiding in Raurkela after escaping from the Khandwa jail. “Later, the police arrested her claiming that she was also a member of SIMI who instructed them to commit the offences. Police concocted a story claiming that a cross-firing took place at the site of the raid where she was also inside that room along with those five, but the police failed to prove this in the court,” Adv. Mobin said.
Earlier, the bail plea of Nazma was rejected by Raurkela’s sessions court while it had granted bail to Naveen Sahu, the person who had allegedly helped those alleged SIMI members in procuring voter id cards, PAN cards and opening bank accounts by forging the documents. When Nazma approached the Odisha High Court, a single-judge bench also rejected the bail application on 3rd May 2017.
Then some civil rights bodies including NCHRO (National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations), PUCL (Peoples Union for Civil Liberties), Human Rights Watch along with Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) came forward to provide her legal aid.
“We approached the SC in July last year,” Adv. Mobin informed.
“Basically this is a case of illegal judicial detention. Rather awarding her for cooperating with the police, she has been implicated in false cases just because of certain bias against a particular community. She was baselessly accused as SIMI member. She has no criminal background either,” Adv. Mobin argued.
“SC order has been sent to the sessions court and jail administration. She will come out from the jail soon,” he informed.
Senior lawyer at Supreme Court and founder of HRLN, Adv. Colin Gonsalves was also among four lawyers who fought Nazma’s case in the apex court.