Saquib Nachan, the dreaded former chief of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), may finally see the light of the day after eight years in incarceration as the Supreme Court has paved the way for his bail by ordering a Thane special court to consider his plea for enlargement. Nachan is facing charges under various provisions of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA) as well as Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) for his alleged involvement in the Gatkhopar blast case as well as in a murder case and other triple blasts case in 2002-03. He has been booked under MCOCA for a murder.
His lawyer Mehmood Pracha argued that the police have not filed the charge sheet within the statutory period of 90 days and hence he was entitled to bail. At this, an Apex Bench presided by Justice A.K. Sikri allowed him to file the bail application before the trial court in Mumbai.
Pracha said once Nachan completed the formalities before the trial court, he will be out from jail as “now mere formalities are left before the Special MCOCA court in Thane. This is the case in which he was in the jail. In other cases, he is either acquitted by the court or on bail.” Nachan has been in jail for more than 8 years for the POTA case and had already been convicted and sentenced to 10 years under the Arms Act.
Earlier the Thane special court had rejected an application of the prosecution, the local police in the instant case, seeking more time to file the charge sheet. On a further appeal by the prosecution, the Bombay High Court stayed the trial court order against which Nachan approached the Supreme Court. About eight cases were filed against the ex-SIMI chief; he was acquitted in three murder cases and also in the Ghatkopar blast case.
A commerce graduate, Nachan prepared his own arguments and even cross-examined witnesses in his cases. The third son of one Abdul Hamid Nachan of Mumbai’s Borivali, he was attracted by the Jamaat-e-Islami at a young age and switched to SIMI. His frequent visits to Pakistan came under the scanner of the Indian intelligence agencies and he was kept on watch. However, he justified his travel to Pakistan contending that he visited that country on his Indian passport in relation with his ancestral properties in that country. He was also arrested in the 2003 Mumbai serial blasts.