Karnataka HC upholds ban on PFI with immediate effect

The government had issued an order banning the organisation and its allied outfits for a period of five years with immediate effect on September 28.
Karnataka High Court
Karnataka High CourtFile

BENGALURU: The High Court of Karnataka has upheld the recent ban imposed on the Popular Front of India (PFI) and stated that the Centre has the power under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 to ban an organisation with immediate effect.

A single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna on Wednesday pronounced the judgment in a petition challenging the Union government's recent ban on PFI. The ban was challenged by Nasir Pasha, a resident of Bengaluru and the state president of the proscribed outfit.

''The proviso to sub-section (3) of Section 3 permits the Central Government that in the event it is of the opinion that circumstances exist which renders it necessary for the Government to declare an association to be unlawful with immediate effect, it may for reasons to be stated in writing direct that the notification shall have effect from the date of its publication in the official gazette,'' Justice Nagaprasanna said in his judgment.

The Centre is empowered under the proviso to bring in any notification declaring any organisation to be unlawful with immediate effect, the judge said, adding that the only rider to this is that reasons should be recorded in writing.

The government had issued an order banning the organisation and its allied outfits for a period of five years with immediate effect on September 28. The Centre took this action after raids on the offices of PFI and the residences of its members across the country.

The senior counsel for the petitioner had argued that there was no warrant to bring the notification into operation with immediate effect and there are no separate reasons recorded for the said purpose.

The counsel had submitted that a fundamental right under Article 19(4) of the Constitution cannot be taken away in a perfunctory manner without recording separate reasons for bringing into effect the notification with immediate effect.

However, the Union government contended that ''in the notification itself sufficient reasons are indicated for bringing into effect the notification with immediate effect. Though no separate notification is issued, it is not a case where there are no reasons recorded in writing as is necessary under the proviso to sub-section (3) of Section 3 of the Act.'' The High Court accepted the government's arguments. ''A perusal at the notification under challenge would indicate that reasons are present in the notification itself. Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution of India on which much emphasis is laid on is also hedged with reasonable restrictions to be imposed in certain circumstances under Article 19(4) of the Constitution of India,'' it said.

Citing earlier judgments that had upheld bans on organisations in similar circumstances, the HC dismissed the petition stating, ''In the light of the judgment rendered by the High Court of Delhi in the case of Islamic Research Foundation which was considering the case of Mohammad Jafar rendered by the apex court and the fact that reasons are found in the impugned notification itself, I do not find any warrant that would entail interference at the hands of this court.''

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