NEW DELHI: The Centre's ban on pro-Khalistan group 'Sikhs for Justice' has been upheld by a tribunal constituted under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act saying its activities were "disruptive" and threatened the "sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of India".
The tribunal, headed by Delhi High Court Chief Justice D N Patel, said the evidence also proved that SFJ was "working in collusion with anti-India entities and forces".
The central government had sufficient cause to take action under the UAPA for declaring SFJ as an unlawful association, it said.
"The notification dated July 10, 2019 issued by the Union of India under the Act declaring Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) to be an unlawful association is hereby confirmed. The reference is answered in the affirmative," the tribunal said.
The Centre in July 10, 2019 notification had declared SFJ as an unlawful association and had banned it for five years, saying the group's primary objective was to establish an "independent and sovereign country" in Punjab and it openly espouses the cause of Khalistan, challenging the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India.
Thereafter, in August a tribunal was set up for adjudicating whether there was sufficient cause to declare SFJ as an unlawful association.
The tribunal, in its order of January 6, has noted that the US-based SFJ, which is run by some Sikhs of foreign nationality in the US, Canada, the UK and so on, was behind the campaign called Referendum 2020 which seeks ceding of the state of Punjab from the Union of India.
"The call for a referendum to cede a part of the territory of India in itself is a crime. The association (SFJ) has been proved to be indulging by its speeches and social media expressions and communications, in acts which are detrimental to the unity, integrity and sovereignty of India."
"Referendum 2020 being propagated by the respondent Association is itself restricted and is an unlawful activity under the Act and does not have any sanction under any law," it said.
The tribunal refused to accept SFJ's contentions that utterances, acts and social media posts by its members were innocent in character and have had no repercussions in India.
"It was with great difficulty and at a huge cost that the state of Punjab was rid of terrorist activity and any attempt at this stage to revive or foment any activity which threatens the unity and territorial integrity and sovereignty of India must be nipped in the bud at the threshold itself," the tribunal said.