PFI moves SC challenging UAPA tribunal’s decision confirming Centre’s five-year ban

The Popular Front of India (PFI) has moved the Supreme Court against an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) tribunal confirming the five-year ban imposed on it by the central government.

A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi, which was scheduled to hear the plea, adjourned the matter saying the petitioner has circulated a letter for adjournment.

In its petition, the PFI has challenged the March 21 order of the UAPA tribunal by which it had confirmed the September 27, 2022 decision of the Centre.

The Centre had banned the PFI for five years for its alleged links with global terrorist organisations such as ISIS and trying to spread communal hatred in the country.

It had declared as “unlawful association” the PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts, including Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CFI), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala.

The notification proscribing the organisation said the central government is of the firm opinion that it is necessary to declare the PFI and its associates, affiliates or fronts as “unlawful association” with immediate effect under the UAPA.

It had said the notification shall, subject to any order that may be made under section 4 of the UAPA, have effect for a period of five years from the date of its publication in the official gazette.

More than 150 people allegedly linked to the PFI were detained or arrested in raids across seven states in September last year.

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A pan-India crackdown by agencies against the 16-year-old group had led to the arrest of over a hundred of its activists and seizure of several dozen properties.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notification had said some of the PFI’s founding members are the leaders of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), and the PFI has linkages with Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). Both JMB and SIMI are proscribed organisations.

It said there were many instances of international linkages of the PFI with global terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts have been working covertly to increase the radicalisation of one community by promoting a sense of insecurity in the country, which is substantiated by the fact that some PFI cadres have joined international terrorist organisations, the notification claimed.

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