UAPA Tribunal upholds nationwide ban on Popular Front

Muslim organisations in Kerala had mixed reactions to the Centre banning the PFI and its affiliates. Photo: Onmanorama/Canva

Delhi: The UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) Tribunal on Tuesday upheld the Central government's ban on the Islamic organisation, Popular Front of India (PFI).

It also approved the ban on PFI's affiliated organisations.

In September 2022, the Centre imposed a five-year ban on the PFI and eight of its affiliates in view of protecting national security and the potential threat the party poses to the law and order situation in the country. The action was taken under Section 3 of the UAPA.

During the period, any activity even remotely associated with the banned organisations shall be considered a crime and subsequent action will be initiated.

Following the decision, the Kerala government closed and sealed the offices of the PFI and its related organisations, besides freezing their bank accounts.

The PFI's affiliated organisations are Rehab India Foundation, Campus Front of India, All India Imams Council, National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation, National Women's Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala.

UAPA Tribunal

Once the Central government declares an organisation illegal under the UAPA, it usually takes effect only after the tribunal confirms it.

However, the Act also provides for immediate effect subject to the decision of the tribunal, and this is what has been applied in PFI's case.

The matter should be referred to the tribunal within 30 days of the notification that the organisation is illegal. The tribunal will be the sitting judge of the High Court in the case.

Following this, the tribunal will examine whether there are sufficient grounds to declare the organisation illegal. The outfit in question will also be given an opportunity to explain its part.

The tribunal can also conduct an independent inquiry. It also holds the power to confirm and set aside government action. The tribunal has to take a call within six months from the time the government declares it illegal.

However, even if the ban is upheld by the tribunal, the Centre can revoke the declaration that the organisation is illegal.

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