B Mubeena filed a writ petition aimed to challenge the rejection of her father’s release order, citing Government Order No. G.O.(Ms) No. 296, dated 18.03.2019, issued by the Home Secretary. The petition sought to quash the rejection order and, subsequently, direct the release of SA Basha, who is approximately 85 years old and a convict detained at Central Prison, Kovai-18. The release was sought prematurely in accordance with G.O.(Ms).No. 1155/2008, dated 11.09.2008, and G.O.(Ms).No.64, dated 01.02.2018, along with relevant sections of The Tamil Nadu Prison Rules, 1983.
In addition to the writ petition, an interim application (IA) was filed, requesting the court to grant interim bail to SA Basha until the final disposition of the writ petition. The petitioner contended that her father should have been released as early as 2008, following a government order allowing the premature release of certain prisoners who had completed seven years of actual imprisonment as of 15.09.2008. At the time of the application, SA Basha had served nearly 14 years of his sentence.
The petition was heard by a division bench comprising Justice S.S. Sundar and Sundar Mohan. During the proceedings, the Additional Prosecutor representing the Tamil Nadu government, Rajthilak, conveyed that the government had no objections to granting interim bail to S.A. Basha. Subsequently, the judges ruled in favor of granting S.A. Basha three months of interim bail. The court also directed the government to submit a response to the petition during the upcoming hearing.
Background on Al-Umma
Al-Umma, a banned organisation, came into the spotlight after the 1998 serial bombings in Coimbatore. S.A. Basha and 16 other members of the outfit were sentenced to life imprisonment and have been housed in the high-security block of the Coimbatore Central Prison since February 1998. It’s worth noting that S.A. Basha was previously hospitalized for chest pain in April and returned to prison after receiving treatment. He had been granted a 15-day parole to celebrate Ramzan with his family, during which he complained of chest pain. Over the years, S.A. Basha has received bail and parole on various occasions, often due to health-related reasons.
The 1998 serial blasts in Coimbatore resulted in the loss of 58 lives and left more than 250 innocent individuals injured. The families of the victims have consistently opposed the premature release of the convicts, arguing that they do not deserve leniency. They label these individuals as terrorists and firmly oppose any compassionate considerations for their early release.
Political Parties’ Stance
The issue of the premature release of Muslim prisoners, including SA Basha, has sparked a political debate. While several political parties, excluding the BJP, have been pushing for the early release of these prisoners, BJP’s Annamalai has taken a firm stance, asserting that terrorists should not be shown any leniency. The BJP and other parties have drawn attention to the fact that terrorists should not be categorized by religion, community, or caste, and their actions should be condemned without exception.