New Delhi: On Wednesday, the Centre defended in the Delhi High Court its decision to ban controversial Indian Islamic preacher Zakir Naik's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) saying the order was made after "application of mind" as there was apprehension that youths could be "radicalised" to join terror groups.
The government told Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, who reserved the verdict on IRF's plea challenging the order to immediately ban the organisation, that it has enough material in its possession to take action against IRF.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, also produced before the court the files and materials available with the government on the basis of which the decision was made.
The ASG handed over these documents to the court and requested Justice Sachdeva to "have a look at the materials and notings on the basis of which such a decision was taken".
IRF, in its plea, has challenged the 17 November, 2016, notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) which had imposed an immediate ban on the organisation under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
During the hearing on Wednesday, senior advocate Dinesh Mathur, representing IRF, submitted that the MHA notification gives no reason and cites no material for taking such a step as was required by the law laid down by the Supreme Court.
IRF also said the immediate ban was imposed without giving it any show cause notice.
However, the Centre countered the submissions and said that the need for taking the urgent step was felt in view of the apprehension that Indian youths could be "radicalised" or "motivated" by the alleged statements and speeches made by IRF and its members, including its President Naik, to join terror groups like Islamic State, which is a cause of global concern.
Opposing the maintainability of the petition, the ASG said the government did not want to wait for some "catastrophic" incident to happen before taking the decision.
Aggrieved by the Centre's stand, IRF's counsel said that whatever has been done by a person in his or her individual capacity does not mean that an organisation can be banned.
"IRF is not an accused in the case and the crime report reported against Naik is of 2012-2013," he said, adding, "Why action has been taken afer such a long time? Is this the way the government applies its mind?"
The Centre had earlier told the high court that as per the notification, Naik was also accused of making statements which were "derogatory of other religions" and thus, "spreading communal disharmony".
It had said that Mumbai Police had already lodged an FIR against six others of IRF on a complaint by the father of a Kerala-based youth who joined Islamic State.
It had said that some terrorists and Islamic State sympathisers arrested by the authorities have claimed "they were inspired by the statements made by IRF".
The Centre had also said the matter is now before the tribunal, set up under the UAPA, which will take up the issue on 6 February on which date the organisation will be provided all the affidavits filed by the government.
IRF, on the other hand, had contended that dates or contents of the alleged speeches and statements have not been mentioned in the notification.
It had also said the tribunal refused to accept or admit, before 6 February, its plea challenging the immediate ban and thus, it had to come to the high court.
It had said that it was limiting its plea to the immediate ban and not raising the issue of freezing of its accounts under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
Updated Date: Feb 01, 2017 17:33 PM