New Delhi [India], December 20 (ANI): The UAPA tribunal on Monday issued notice on the plea to confirm the Centre's decision declaring Islamic preacher Zakir Naik's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) as an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The tribunal headed by Delhi High Court Chief Justice DN Patel commenced the hearing today and issued notice to respondents concerned.
The government vide notification dated November 15, 2021, has declared the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) as an unlawful association under the provisions of Section 3(1) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta was leading the Centre's legal team to defend the ban on Islamic Research Foundation under UAPA.
The Centre has earlier constituted a seven-member lawyers' team led by solicitor general Tushar Mehta to defend its decision to declare the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) as an unlawful association under the provisions of Section 3(1) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Besides SG Mehta, other nominated lawyers include Senior Advocate Sachin Datta, Amit Mahajan, Rajat Nair, Kanu Agrawal, Jay Prakash and Dhruv Pandey.
The government in a notification said that it has been decided by the Ministry of Home Affairs that a team of lawyers may appear on behalf of the Government of India before the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal in the said matter.
Earlier, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has set up a tribunal headed by Delhi High Court Chief Justice DN Patel under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) to adjudicate over Islamic Research Organisation (IRF) ban.
Ministry of Home Affairs on December 13, 2021, through a notification, stated that the Islamic Research Foundation has been declared as an unlawful association, vide notification, dated November 15, 2021, published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary, Part II, Section 3, Sub-section (ii).
"Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section 5 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (37 of 1967), the Central Government hereby constitutes an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal consisting of Justice DN Patel, Chief Justice, 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", stated notification.
The MHA recently extended the ban imposed on Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), an NGO headed by Islamic evangelist and India-born preacher Zakir Naik, for a further five years.
In its notification issued, the Ministry mentioned if the activities of the "unlawful association" were not curbed, it would continue its subversive activities and reorganize its absconding activists to create communal disharmony, propagate anti-national sentiments and support militancy.
The Ministry in its notification had said that Islamic preacher Naik's speeches and statements were meant to inspire youths of a particular religion in India and abroad 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 Centre had declared the IRF an unlawful organization under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (37 of 1967) on November 17, 2016, for a period of five years.
The Union Home Ministry in its notification said that the IRF "has been indulging in activities which are prejudicial to the security of the country and have the potential of disturbing the peace and communal harmony and disrupting the secular fabric of the country."
Naik's IRF has been "encouraging and aiding its followers to promote or attempt to promote, on grounds of religion, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious communities and groups which are prejudicial to the integrity and security of the country", the notification said.
According to the Ministry, Naik makes radical statements and speeches which is viewed by crores of people worldwide.
The Ministry said that 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".
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 fled to Malaysia in 2016, just before the National Investigation Agency (NIA) started a probe against the Islamic preacher. (ANI)