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SC dismisses PFI's plea challenging UAPA tribunal's decision confirming Centre's 5-year ban, asks it to approach HC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea of the Popular Front of India (PFI) challenging an order of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) tribunal confirming the five-year ban imposed on it by the Centre and granted it liberty to approach the High Court.
A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi said that the PFI should have approached the High Court against the tribunal's order instead of directly moving to the apex court.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for PFI, said the organisation will approach the High Court. Thereafter, the bench granted it liberty to file a petition against the tribunal order in the High Court and dismissed the plea it was hearing.
"The petitioner has approached this court invoking our jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution of India directly against the order of a tribunal constituted under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. In our opinion, the constitutional writ jurisdiction ought to be the forum that the petitioner should have approached first. We accordingly dismiss the petition giving liberty to the petitioner to approach the High Court," the apex court stated in its order.
PFI in its petition has challenged the March 21 order of the UAPA tribunal by which it had confirmed the September 27, 2022 decision of the Centre to ban the organisation for five years.
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.
The Centre 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 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, the notification stated.
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 notification claimed that 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.

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