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Karnataka HC refuses to interfere with PFI ban, says reasons cited in MHA order

Nasir Pasha, the incarcerated Karnataka region PFI president, had questioned the MHA notification, arguing that no separate reasons were recorded for the ban as mandated by the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

The Karnataka High Court (File)

The Karnataka High Court has refused to interfere with a ban imposed on September 28, 2022, by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on the Popular Front of India (PFI) under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967, for involvement in terrorism.

In an order passed on Wednesday, a single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna refused a plea filed by Nasir Pasha, the incarcerated Karnataka region president of the PFI, to overturn the September 28 PFI ban by indicating that the MHA has cited reasons for the ban and that the ban will come into effect only when ratified by a tribunal.

“Therefore, in the light of the judgment rendered by the High Court of Delhi in the case of Islamic Research Foundation, which was considering the case of Mohammed Jafar rendered by the apex court and the fact that reasons are found in the impugned notification itself, I do not find any warrant that would entail interference at the hands of this court,” the high court said.

Pasha, who is among several PFI leaders arrested ahead of the September 28 MHA ban, had approached the Karnataka high court through his wife.

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He questioned the MHA notification on September 28 declaring the PFI an unlawful organisation “with immediate effect”. Pasha argued that there was no need to bring the ban into immediate effect and that no separate reasons were recorded for the ban in the MHA order as mandated by section (3) of Section 3 of the UAPA.

It was argued on behalf of the PFI that a fundamental right under Article 19(4) of the Constitution of India – the right to form associations – cannot be taken away without recording separate reasons.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta countered the argument saying no separate reasons needed to be recorded and that reasons for the ban were available in the notification of September 28, 2022.

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The high court in its judgment observed that the “notification of declaration of any organization to be unlawful would come into effect only if the declaration is confirmed by the Tribunal and that confirmation is published in the official gazette”.

The high court also observed that the MHA notification has cited reasons for the immediate ban on the PFI as the involvement of its associates or affiliates “in violent terrorist activities with an intention to create a reign of terror in the country, thereby endangering the security and public order of the State”.

The high court also pointed to the MHA ban order which said that “if there was no immediate curb or control on the activities, it is likely that they would continue to disturb public order undermining the constitutional set up of the country. Therefore, in the opinion of the Government, the notification is to be brought into force with immediate effect”.

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“In the notification itself, sufficient reasons are indicated for bringing into effect the notification with immediate effect. Though no separate notification is issued, it is not a case where there are no reasons recorded in writing as is necessary under the proviso to sub-section (3) of Section 3 of the Act,” Justice Nagaprasanna said.

“Article 19(4) mandates that nothing in Article 19(1)(c) which deals with the fundamental right to form associations and unions shall have the effect or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity or public order or morality reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the said right conferred by clause (c) of Article 19(1),” the high court said.

“A perusal of the notification under challenge would indicate that reasons are present in the notification itself. Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution of India on which much emphasis is laid is also hedged with reasonable restrictions to be imposed in certain circumstances under Article 19(4) of the Constitution of India,” the high court said.

First published on: 30-11-2022 at 15:46 IST
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