'Approach High Court' : Supreme Court Dismisses Popular Front of India's Plea Against Central Govt's Ban Under UAPA

Awstika Das

6 Nov 2023 7:30 AM GMT

  • Approach High Court : Supreme Court Dismisses Popular Front of Indias Plea Against Central Govts Ban Under UAPA
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    The Supreme Court on Monday (November 6) dismissed a plea by the Popular Front of India (PFI) challenging a home ministry notification designating it and its affiliated organisations as 'unlawful associations' under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 since the now proscribed outfit did not approach a high court first. The court, however, granted PFI liberty to seek appropriate remedy by invoking the constitutional writ jurisdiction of the jurisdictional high court.

    A bench of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi was hearing a special leave petition filed by the Popular Front of India against a UAPA tribunal(headed by a Delhi HC Judge) upholding the central government's ban earlier this year.

    At the very outset of today's hearing, Justice Bose asked Senior Advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for PFI, "You have not approached the high court?"

    While conceding that a remedy under Article 226 was available, the senior counsel pointed out, "There are matters pending in this court against similar banning of organisations. Pending under active consideration."

    "Those must have arisen out of high court orders," Justice Trivedi replied.

    "There are two situations in which such petitions have been filed - either Article 32 has been invoked, or the tribunal order has been challenged directly," Divan countered.

    "It's better if you go to the high court," Justice Trivedi said, refusing to relent.

    After this brief exchange, Justice Bose pronounced -

    "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 which the petitioner should have approached first. We accordingly dismiss the petition giving liberty to the petitioner to approach the high court."


    In September last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs published a gazette notification declaring the Popular Front of India (PFI) along with its various associates, affiliates, or fronts as 'unlawful associations' under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, citing their alleged connections with terrorist organisations and involvement in acts of terror. This development came on the heels of two massive nationwide search, detain, and arrest operations against the PFI and its members. The ban was to be effective immediately for a period of five years under Section 3(1) of the UAPA. Among the listed affiliates were the 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.

    In March this year, a UAPA tribunal, led by Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma of the Delhi High Court, upheld the central government's ban on the Popular Front of India and its associated entities. As per the provisions of the anti-terror law, the tribunal, comprising a single high court judge, was required to adjudicate the validity of the government's declaration. Justice Sharma was appointed as the presiding officer of the tribunal by the Centre in October 2022.

    Case Details

    Popular Front of India v. Union of India | Diary No. 26236 of 2023

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