New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) Televangelist Zakir Naik’s organisation Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) on Friday approached the Delhi High Court against a tribunal’s order which had upheld the central government’s decision to ban it under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal recused herself from hearing the matter and posted it for July 27 before another bench.
Saying there were sufficient reasons and cause to declare IRF an unlawful association, a special tribunal headed by Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal of Delhi High Court on May 11 had upheld the November 17, 2016 notification banning IRF for five years.
Filing an appeal against tribunal’s order, the IRF sought setting aside of tribunal’s May 11 order, aguing that actions done by individuals named in the FIRs – Naik and his aide Arshi Qureshi – cannot reflect on the organisation.
The ban will affect the charitable and education work being done by IRF, said the plea, adding that FIRs were based on speeches allegedly made by Naik years before the charges were raised.
On March 16, a single judge bench of the High Court had also dismissed IRF’s plea against the Central government’s decision to immediately ban the organisation, saying immediate action appears to have been taken in “interest of sovereignty, integrity and maintenance of public order”.
On November 17, 2016, the Union home ministry imposed an immediate ban on the organisation under the Unlawful Activies (Prevention) Act.
The Central government had produced before the court the relevant documents, based on which the decision to ban IRF was made, and said the need for taking “urgent step” was felt in view of the apprehension that Indian youth could be “radicalised” or “motivated” to join terror groups like Islamic State by the alleged statements and speeches made by the organisation and its members, including its President, Naik.
The government had also said that as per notification, Naik was also accused of making statements which were “derogatory of other religions” and thus, “spreading communal disharmony”.