A tribunal, which is examining the validity of the five-year extension of ban on Zakir Naik's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) by the Centre as an unlawful association under the UAPA, commenced its proceedings on Monday and issued notice to the banned organisation.
The tribunal is headed by Delhi High Court Chief Justice D.N. Patel. Naik, an Indian-born controversial Islamic preacher had fled to Malaysia in 2016 when the police lodged a case against him for "anti-national" activities, including promoting hatred among the religious communities through his speeches. The Centre had constituted a seven-member legal team to defend its decision to declare the IRF as an unlawful association along with the extension of the ban by five years.
The tribunal has sought response from the organisation by December 28.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who is heading the Centre's legal team defending the extension of the ban, volunteered to publish the notice in leading dailies, over and above regular service so that the banned organisation cannot take any technical defence.
Besides Mehta, the other counsel in the Centre's team are senior advocate Sachin Datta, Rajat Nair, Kanu Agrawal, Amit Mahajan, Jay Prakash, and Dhruv Pandey.
The Centre has constituted an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal headed by Justice Patel under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) provisions to adjudicate whether there is sufficient cause for banning IRF, founded by the controversial Islamic preacher Naik.
The Ministry of Home Affairs' notification dated December 13 read: "The Central Government hereby constitutes an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal consisting of Justice D.N. Patel, Chief Justice of High Court of Delhi, for the purpose of adjudicating whether or not there is sufficient cause for declaring the Islamic Research Foundation as an unlawful association."
The ban on the IRF was extended by 5 years by the MHA through a notification issued on November 15.
The government apprehended that IRF cadre and supporters may disrupt the secular fabric of the country by polluting the minds of the people by creating communal disharmony, propagating anti-national sentiments, escalating secessionism by supporting militancy, and undertaking activities that are prejudicial to the sovereignty, integrity, and security of the country and it was necessary to extend the ban on IRF for five years more.
"In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (37 of 1967), the Central Government declared the IRF as an unlawful association, vide, notification of the Government of India in the Ministry of Home Affairs number SO 3460(E), dated the 17th November, 2016," the MHA notification reads.