Ban on PFI
Polity & Governance
7th Oct, 2022
The Popular Front of India and its affiliates has been banned for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 for having terror links.
Popular Front of India:
- The PFI was created in 2007 through the merger of three Muslim organizations in southern India namely the National Democratic Front in Kerala, the Karnataka Forum for Dignity, and the Manitha Neethi Pasarai in Tamil Nadu.
- The formation of the PFI was formally announced at a rally in Bengaluru during what was called the “Empower India Conference”.
About the Ban:
- The Ministry of Home Affairs declared the PFI an “unlawful association” along with its associates which include:
- Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CFI), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation, and Rehab Foundation, Kerala”.
- According to section 2(1)(p) of the UAPA, it is an association that has for its object any unlawful activity or offense defined under Sections 153A or 153B of the Indian Penal Code.
- It may amount to, promoting enmity between different groups and making imputations, assertions that are prejudicial to national integration.
Reason for the Ban:
- It has been found that the PFI has linkages with Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), both of which are proscribed organizations.
- There has also been a number of instances of international linkages of PFI with Global Terrorist Groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
- They have been pursuing a secret agenda to radicalize a particular section of society working towards undermining the concept of democracy.
About Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act:
- Originally enacted in 1967, the UAPA was amended to be modelled as an anti-terror law in 2004 and 2008.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 crimes, it deviates from ordinary legal procedures and creates an exceptional regime where constitutional safeguards of the accused are curtailed.
Consequences of being declared unlawful
- The consequences of being declared unlawful include criminalization of its membership and the forfeiture of the properties of the organization.
- Under Section 7 of the UAPA, the government has the power to prohibit the use of funds of an unlawful association and,
- Under Section 8, all places that are used by unlawful association can be notified and seized.
- There is a provision of punishment up to 2 years fine and a fine if a person is and continues to be a member of such (unlawful) associations.
About UAPA Tribunal:
- The tribunal consists of only one person, who has to be a High Court judge.
- The UAPA provides for a tribunal under a High Court judge to be constituted by the government for its bans to have long-term legal sanctity.
- Section 3 of the UAPA Act: The government has powers to declare an association “unlawful”.
- Such notification issued by the government shall have no effect until the tribunal has, by an order made under Section 4, confirmed the declaration made therein and the order is published in the Official Gazette”.
- A government order would not come into effect until the tribunal has confirmed it.
- In exceptional circumstances, the notification can come into effect immediately once the reasons for it are recorded in writing. The tribunal can endorse or reject it.
Process to declare an Association unlawful:
- The government is mandated to send the notification to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Tribunal within 30 days of issuing the gazette notification to have the ban ratified.
- Later the Tribunal by issuing a written notice calls upon the association to show cause within 30 days.
- After arguments from both sides, the Tribunal can hold an inquiry to decide within six months whether there is sufficient evidence to declare PFI an “unlawful association”.
- The tribunal can regulate its own procedure, including the place at which it holds its sittings.
- It can hold hearings in different states for allegations pertaining to those states.
- To make inquiries, the tribunal has the same powers as vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.