UAPA Tribunal confirms Centre’s decision to declare Zakir Naik’s IRF an unlawful association | Updated: April 01, 2022, 7:51 AM

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UAPA Tribunal confirms Centre’s decision to declare Zakir Naik’s IRF an unlawful association

On Wednesday, March 30, UAPA Tribunal confirmed the Centre's decision and declared Zakir Naik's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). A single-member tribunal consisting of Justice (Retd) DN Patel has confirmed this decision of the Central Government to ban IRF on grounds of unlawful activities and promoting terrorism.

In a notification issued on 30 March 2022, the Ministry of Home Affairs stated that the Tribunal, in the exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (3) of section 4 of the said Act, passed an order on 09 March 2022, confirming the declaration made in the said notification. Therefore, in pursuance of sub-section (4) of section 4 of the said Act, the Central Government publishes the order of the said Tribunal according to which there is substantial evidence to confirm that the association has been involved in Unlawful activities which are detrimental to sovereignty, unity, integrity, security of India, and causes disaffection against India. 

What is UAPA?

UAPA or Unlawful Activities Prevention Act primarily is an anti-terror law, which is aimed at “more effective prevention of certain unlawful activities of individuals and associations and for dealing with terrorist activities”. Enacted in 1967, it is much like the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act (TADA), and Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) acts, both of which had to be repealed because they were too ‘stringent’.

In case of IRF, the Ministry of Home Affairs in its Notification stated that Naik’s speeches and statement did not just meant to inspire youth of particular religion in India, but also influenced people outside to commit terrorist acts.

“Naik’s Statements and speeches are objectionable, subversive that promote enmity, hatred among religious groups,” the Home Ministry said on extending the ban on IRF.

The Ministry further stated, “these statements by Naik can also disrupt the secular fabric of the country by polluting the minds of the people by creating communal disharmony, propagate anti-national sentiments, escalate secessionism by supporting militancy, and some people may undertake activities which are prejudicial to the sovereignty, integrity and security of the country.”

After going through the evidence, the Tribunal said that it is satisfied that there existed sufficient cause for imposing the said ban on IRF as its unlawful activities are subsisting through various mediums, which are detrimental to the sovereignty, unity, integrity, security of India, and causes disaffection against India.

The Tribunal order stated. “This Tribunal confirms the Notification dated 15 November 2021, issued by the Government of India for the imposition of ban on IRF for a period of five years with effect from the date of the aforesaid notification. In view of this, the Court found justification in the decision of the Central Government to take action under section 3(1) and Section 3(3) of the Act.”

What was IRF’s Response?

IRF in its reply to the UAPA tribunal stated that there is not “an iota of evidence” to show that the Foundation has ever indulged in any unlawful activity in the past. “The Foundation also does not have for its objects any unlawful activity or any activity punishable under sections 153 (A) or 153 (B) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The Foundation is a registered charitable Public Trust and has in its aims and objectives, activities which inter-alia promote charitable, educational, moral and socio-economic development, besides establishing schools, orphanages, research and educational institutions, hospitals, etc. and also giving scholarships and educational support to deserving students,” IRF proclaimed.

In the matter, Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India with Sachin Datta, Senior Advocate, Amit Mahajan, Capital Goods Skill Council (CGSC), Advocates Rajat Nair, Jay Prakash Singh, Kanu Aggarwal, Dhruv Pande, Himanshu Goel and Shantanu Sharma appeared for the Government of India. Advocates Rahul Chitnis and Aaditya Pande appeared for the State of Maharashtra. Advocates S.Hari Haran, Shakul R. Ghatole, Bhavana Duhoon, Jaikriti S. Jadeja appeared for IRF.

Naik runs two television stations, namely Peace TV and Peace TV Urdu. Both the channels are banned in many countries. It is banned in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The IRF head had fled to Malaysia in 2016, just before the National Investigation Agency (NIA) started a probe against the Islamic preacher.

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