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Centre defends in HC its decision to ban Zakir Naik’s IRF

New Delhi : The Centre today defended in the Delhi High Court its decision to ban controversial Indian Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) saying the order was made after “application of mind” as there was apprehension that youths could be “radicalised” to join terror groups.

The government told Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, who reserved the verdict on IRF’s plea challenging the order to immediately ban the organisation, that it has enough material in its possession to take action against IRF.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, also produced before the court the files and materials available with the government on the basis of which the decision was made.

The ASG handed over these documents to the court and requested Justice Sachdeva to “have a look at the materials and notings on the basis of which such a decision was taken”.

IRF, in its plea, has challenged the November 17, 2016, notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) which had imposed an immediate ban on the organisation under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

During the hearing today, senior advocate Dinesh Mathur, representing IRF, 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 without giving it any show cause notice.

However, the Centre countered the submissions and said that the need for taking the urgent step 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 Naik, to join terror groups like ISIS, which is a cause of global concern.

Opposing the maintainability of the petition, the ASG said the government did not want to wait for some “catastrophic” incident to happen before taking the decision.

Aggrieved by the Centre’s stand, IRF’s counsel said that whatever has been done by a person in his or her individual capacity does not mean that an organisation can be banned.

“IRF is not an accused in the case and the crime report reported against Naik is of 2012-2013,” he said, adding, “Why action has been taken afer such a long time? Is this the way the government applies its mind?”

PTI