Jharkhand HC Quashes Ban On Popular Front Of India (PFI) [Read Judgment]

Jharkhand HC Quashes Ban On Popular Front Of India (PFI) [Read Judgment]

The Jharkhand High Court on Monday quashed the State Government’s notification passed under section 16 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908 declaring the Popular Front of India (PFI) unlawful.

Justice Rongon Mukhopadhyay opined that the notification seemed to have been issued in “haste and in an imprudent manner being totally oblivious to the absence of congealed materials to declare PFI as an unlawful association”.

The Court noted that the State had issued the notification on the basis of inputs that some PFI members had left for Syria to join ISIS. It, however, opined that the allegations were vague and therefore quashed the notification, observing, “The State has faulted on the decision-making process itself. Sound reasoning and rational basis should have formed the backbone of the impugned notification. 

Even if in the interest of security the reasons were not mentioned the State was not prevented to apprise this Court of any substantive material, the investigating agency may have collected indicating the involvement of PFI in subversive activities. Neither has such material been brought to the notice of the Court not the counter affidavit highlights such instance which would be supportive of the decision of the State Government for issuing the Notification dated 21.2.2018.”

The Court was hearing a petition filed by Abdul Wadud, general secretary of PFI, challenging the notification as well as the proceedings initiated against him and other members of the organization pursuant to the notification.

He had submitted that the aim and object of PFI is to “protect national integration, communal harmony, peace, progress and prosperity amongst the people, irrespective of the community to which they belonged, as also to establish social order, freedom and justice for all, to work for the welfare and progress of the weaker sections of the society, to protect dignity and life of the members of marginalized part of the society, to check the menace of casteism and communalism and to rain voice against the violation of human rights and to protect the unity and solidarity of different social groups.”

He had then asserted that PFI had raised its voice against the leader of a political dispensation of the State, which resulted in several members of the organization being arrested and assaulted. He had, therefore, challenged the notification issued by the Home Department on February 21, 2018, declaring the PFI as unlawful under section 16 of the Act.

While PFI had asserted that Section 16 of the Act had been repealed by a subsequent enactment, the Court did not think so, ruling, “…it is concluded that Section 16 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908 remained in existence since its very inception at the time of enactment of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908 and continued to wield its influence unrestricted by any subsequent enactment and therefore it was within the competence of the State Government to invoke section 16 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act while declaring the PFI as an unlawful association by virtue of the impugned Notification dated 21.2.2018.”

It, however, opined that the State Government had not provided appropriate reasons for declaring the organization unlawful, and went on to quash the proceedings against the petitioner and other organization members as well, noting that these were primarily instituted on the basis of the notification.

Read the Judgment Here