The Bombay High Court on Wednesday dismissed Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) founder Zakir Naik’s petition challenging revocation of his passport and also seeking a ‘stay on arrest of the petitioner’.
The petition, which was affirmed before a notary in Malaysia, was filed through Naik’s advocate JP Dhanda. It also sought various directions to the State of Maharashtra and the National Investigation Agency regarding pending cases against him and his foundation.
A bench of Justice RM Savant and Justice Revati Mohite Dere questioned Naik’s lawyer as to why his client was yet to join the investigation that was being conducted against him by the NIA.
After a terror attack in Dhaka that killed some 29 persons, the Union Home Ministry had passed an order declaring IRF an unlawful association on November 17, 2016. A day later, the NIA filed an FIR against Naik and his associates stating that Naik was indulging in unlawful activities by “making several provocative and inflammatory speeches which inspired and incited a number of youths in India to commit unlawful activities and terrorist acts”.
The NIA is currently investigating charges against Naik and associates under Section 153 A of IPC (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, language etc.) and Sections 10, 13, 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
Two non-bailable warrants have already been issued against Zakir Naik by a Special NIA Court in Mumbai.
After examining all the simultaneous proceedings against Zakir Naik, the court said:
“It is required to be noted that the Petitioner has not joined the investigation and the reliefs which we have adverted to hereinabove have been sought in the absence of the Petitioner joining the investigation. The Learned Counsel appearing for the Petitioner was at pains to demonstrate that no case for the prosecution of the Petitioner either under Section 153A or Unlawful Activities Act, in fact has been made out. How such a submission could be countenanced by us in the absence of the Petitioner joining the investigation, therefore begs an answer. We had therefore put to the Learned Counsel appearing for the Petitioner whether the Petitioner would join the investigation for which appropriate arrangements could be made as the Enforcement Directorate, National Investigation Agency and the Ministry of External Affairs, are represented before us. The Learned ASG Mr. Anil Singh is in fact appearing for the External Affairs Ministry. But a statement one way or the other was not forthcoming from the Learned Counsel for the Petitioner.”
As for Naik’s passport, the court said the prayer to re-authenticate his passport that has been revoked cannot be considered. The bench said the same can be sought by the petitioner by filing independent proceedings, as the revocation of the passport is an independent cause of action.
Thus, the court said since the petitioner has not shown any intent to join the investigation despite the seriousness of the offences, the petition stands dismissed.