The Delhi High Court held that the Centre’s decision to ban controversial preacher Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) was taken to safeguard national security as it dismissed its plea challenging the ban.
Holding that Naik’s foundation’s plea challenging the Centre’s decision has “no merit”, the court said the order of the government was “not arbitrary and illegal”. “The decision by the Union of India was taken in the interest to safeguard the sovereignty, integrity and national security of India,” Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said.
The court agreed with the Narendra Modi government’s contention that the order was made after “application of mind” as there was apprehension that youths could be “radicalised” to join terror groups.
The court said the government has produced material before it to back its decision to immediately impose the ban on Zakir Naik’s organisation. The government had told the court, which had reserved the verdict on February 1 on IRF’s plea against the order to immediately ban the organisation, that it has enough material in its possession to take action against the foundation.
The Centre had also produced before the court the files and materials available with the government on the basis of which the decision was made.
Zakir Naik’s IRF, in its plea, had challenged the November 17, 2016, notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) which hadimposed an immediate ban on the organisation under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Upholding the Centre’s notification, Justice Sachdeva said the government has given reasons for their step and it iswrong to say that no detail reasons were communicated to them before banning.
The high court made it clear that the tribunal, set up under the UAPA, shall not get influenced by the findings of this judgment and decide the issue pending before them on merit.
The Islamic Research Foundation had submitted that the MHA notification gives no reason and cites no material for taking such a step as was required by the law laid down by the Supreme Court. IRF also said the immediate ban was imposed withoutgiving it any show cause notice.
However, the Centre had countered the submissions and had said that the need for taking the urgent steps was felt in view of the apprehension that Indian youths could be “radicalised” or “motivated” by the alleged statements and speeches made by IRF and its members, including its President Zakir Naik, to join terror groups like ISIS, which is a cause of global concern.