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Justice Dinesh Sharma to head UAPA tribunal related to the ban on PFI

  • Published
    7th Oct, 2022

The Centre has appointed Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma as the presiding officer of the tribunal for the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), related to the ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI).

  • The National Investigation Agency and Enforcement Directorate had alleged that PFI was engaged in raising and collecting funds from abroad.
  • They were also reported transferring funds to India through “clandestine and illegal channels”.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) declared the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its front organizations including its student wing- the Campus Front of India (CFI) as an “unlawful association” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
  • The Muslim organization has been banned for five years along with eight associates or front organizations.

Appointment of Presiding officer of UAPA tribunal:

  • Once an organization, PFI is now banned under the UAPA, a tribunal is set up by the government to adjudicate whether there are sufficient grounds for the decision.
  • Later the Union Home Ministry requests the Law Ministry to name a sitting judge of a High Court to be the presiding officer.
  • The Law Ministry, in turn, requests the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court to recommend a name.
  • Lastly, the Home Ministry issue a formal notification naming the recommended justice as the presiding officer.
  • The time for which the justice presides over the tribunal is counted as “actual service”.

UAPA Law

  • Enacted in 1967, the UAPA was amended to be modelled as an anti-terror law in 2004 and 2008.
  • In August 2019, Parliament cleared the Unlawful Activities (Prevention), Amendment Bill, 2019 to designate individuals as terrorists on certain grounds provided in the Act.
  • In order to deal with terrorism-related crimes, it deviates from ordinary legal procedures and creates an exceptional regime where constitutional safeguards of the accused are curtailed.

Associated Issues:

  • Vague Definition of Terrorist Act
  • Denial of Bail
  • Pendency of Trails
  • State Overreach
  • Undermining Federalism
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