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The Karnataka High Court has upheld the recent ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI)

The Karnataka High Court has upheld the recent ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI), saying the Center has the power under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 to ban the organization with immediate effect. A single judge, Justice M Nagaprasanna, on Wednesday pronounced the judgment on a petition challenging the Union government’s recent ban on PFIs. The ban was challenged by Nasir Pasha, a resident of Bengaluru and state president of the banned outfit.

“The proviso to section 3 of sub-section 3 enables the Central Government that if it considers that circumstances exist which require the Government to declare an association unlawful with immediate effect, it may, for reasons to be given in writing, direct that the notification shall come into force on the date of its publication in the Official Gazette,” Justice Nagaprasanna said in his judgment. The Center is empowered to issue any notice declaring any organization illegal with immediate effect, the judge said, adding that the only reason is that the reasons should be recorded in writing.

The government issued an order banning the organization and its allied outfits for five years, effective immediately on September 28. The Center took this action following raids on PFI offices and residences of its members across the country. The learned counsel for the petitioner contended that there is no order for immediate operation of the notice and no separate grounds are on record for that purpose.

The counsel argued that the fundamental right under Article 19(4) of the Constitution cannot be taken away in a superficial manner without recording separate reasons for making the notification with immediate effect. However, the Union government argued that “sufficient reasons are given in the notification itself to bring the notification into force with immediate effect. Although a separate notice is not issued, this is not a case where the reasons are not recorded in writing, as required by the provisions of Section 3, Paragraph 3 of the Act.

The High Court accepted the government’s arguments. “A perusal of the impugned notification would indicate that the reasons are contained in the notification itself. Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution of India, on which great emphasis is placed, is also ensured by reasonable restrictions to be imposed under Article 19(4) of the Constitution of India in certain circumstances,” it said.

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