Delhi HC dismisses plea by DeM against Centre declaring it a terrorist group

The Delhi High Court on Thursday dismissed a plea by an all-women outfit Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM) challenging the Centre’s 2004 decision of listing it as a terrorist organization under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967

Kashmiri separatist Asiya Andrabi, who was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2018 and is currently in judicial custody, is the founding leader of DeM.

A single-judge bench of Justice Anish Dayal dismissed the plea noting that the organisation, if it wanted, could have made an application to the Centre seeking its removal from the Schedule, as it is available as a remedy under the UAPA. However, it was not exercised in the matter.

The court noted: “A perusal of the provisions of UAPA show that chapter VI provides for adding a terrorist organization or individuals as part of the Schedule (as per section 35) and section 36 provided that an application may be made to the central government to exercise power under section 35(1)(c) to remove an organization from the Schedule.”

The organization that claims for the freedom of Kashmir from India contended that they got to know about being declared a terrorist organization only in 2018 when chargesheets were filed in court in 2018 against its members.

To this, appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma said that though DeM was declared a terrorist organization on December 30, 2004, the group chose to come to court only after 18 years.

He argued that the government has the right to decide who is a terrorist and who is not.

“It is the prerogative of Central Government to say who is terrorist and who is not,” Sharma said.

He added that the information on the same was already in the public domain.

Justice Dayal told the DeM’s counsel: “To be fair, you cannot say that when the Schedule was promulgated in 2004 and is in public domain, it has to be specifically communicated. What procedure happened because you were a banned organization is a different issue, it is not before this court. Your prayer is to quash the notification. The procedure for de-notification has to be processed first. In section 36, the de-notification procedure is given, you have to go there. Then the government needs to apply its mind.”

The DeM had moved the High Court requesting for a copy of the UAPA notification and its removal from the list of organizations mentioned in the first Schedule of the Act.

Section 3 gives power to the Centre to declare an association unlawful. The terrorist organisations are mentioned in the First Schedule of the Act.

“Accordingly in view of these provision, the petition is dismissed since an alternative remedy prescribed under the statutes is available to the petitioner,” the court said.

20230119-201002

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