New Delhi: Popular Front of India (PFI) Friday moved the Delhi High Court challenging an order of an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) tribunal confirming the five-year ban imposed on it by the Centre.
A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan asked the counsel for the organisation to examine the scope of the petition, asserting that it cannot act as an appellate court in the matter.
"Tell us what is the contour (of the petition). We will have it on re-opening," the bench, also comprising Justice Mini Pushkarna, said.
The court said its jurisdiction under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution was limited as it only empowered it to review aspects like natural justice and decision making.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma raised his objections against certain grounds raised in the petition, saying the pleadings have to be 'sanitised'.
"Pleadings must be proper. This can't be a ramble-rousing platform," he said as he objected to the ban being assailed on the ground of being 'abuse of process', 'disgraceful' and 'tyrannical'.
The court asked the law officer to move an application for striking off the allegedly objectionable statements in the pleadings.
Sharma also said the petition did not state how it was challenging the decision making process in the matter.
The petitioner's counsel informed that a plea against the ban had earlier been filed before the Supreme Court which granted it liberty to approach the high court instead.
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. The pan-India crackdown by law enforcement agencies against the 16-year-old group had also led to 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.
The matter would be heard next on January 8.