NEW DELHI: A special tribunal today upheld the Centre's decision to ban Zakir Naik's Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), saying there were sufficient reasons, including posing a threat to India's security, to declare it an unlawful association.
The tribunal, headed by Justice Sangeeta Dhingra of the Delhi High Court, found that Naik has failed to participate in the legal proceedings before it and was "absconding and untraceable".
The Tribunal on February 23 had ordered in-camera hearing in view of the confidential material being scrutinised by it.
Upholding the Centre's November 17, 2016 notification banning IRF for five years, the tribunal said there were sufficient reasons and cause to declare IRF an unlawful association.
"The entire material placed on record shows that the IRF was involved in activities which not only incite and encourage the youth to under take the unlawful activities with and intent to threaten the sovereignty, unity, integrity and security of India.
"It also cause disaffection against India, which leaves no doubt that the ingredients of section... of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967 are met and there is every reason to conclude that the IRF be declared as an unlawful association," it said.
On March 16, the Delhi High Court had also held that the Centre's decision to ban the IRF was taken to safeguard national security. It had dismissed IRF's plea challenging the ban.
IRF had moved the tribunal against the November 17, 2016 notification of the of the Ministry of Home Affairs imposing an immediate ban on the organisation under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. However, since the tribunal declined to hear the matter before February 6, the foundation had moved the Delhi High Court challenging the immediate ban.
The Judicial Tribunal, was set up to look into the ban on controversial preacher Naik's NGO. Concurring with the finding of the Centre, the tribunal noted in its 115-page order that no explanation was given on Naik's behalf during the hearing.
It also noted that Naik has failed to give clarification that the speeches had been made in his individual capacity and not on behalf of IRF.
"Even though IRF is not accused but there is material which shows that Naik was the founder of IRF and empowered to assign any work on behalf of IRF to others associated with IRF," it said.