The Union government on Wednesday banned the radical outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) and its associates for five years, citing threats to security and terror links. A total of nine organisations have been declared “unlawful” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The Centre will now send the notification to the Unlawful Activities Prevention tribunal, headed by the sitting Delhi High Court judge, within 30 days. The tribunal will decide whether or not there is enough cause to declare PFI as “unlawful”.
READ | Centre to approach UAPA tribunal to make ban on PFI permanent
So, what happens now to members of PFI, bank accounts and offices of banned organisations’ functionaries?
Union Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai told India Today that members of the organisation will be arrested and its offices will be completely shut down. The bank accounts of PFI and its associated front will also be frozen immediately.
He further stated that there would be a complete travel ban on PFI members. The law enforcement agencies will continue with the investigation into the cases and will also ensure all activities related directly or indirectly to PFI are stopped.
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The central agencies and state police across the country, which have already conducted two rounds of nationwide raids and arrested over 100 PFI members, now have the right to arrest members of the organisation, freeze its accounts, and even confiscate its assets.
The Ministry of Home Affairs in the meantime will submit information on PFI as part of a reference to how it encouraged disharmony and engaged in activities that were a threat to national security. Once the tribunal receives this, it will issue a show-cause notice to the PFI asking it to reply why it should not be banned.
“Once a judge is appointed, the ministry will refer the notification to the tribunal which will thereafter call nabbed PFI and its affiliate groups by notice saying why the association should not be declared unlawful,” former Union Home Ministry officer RVS Mani told India Today.
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“The sitting judge will carry out an inquiry and can visit any part of the country and can also go to the public seeking opinion. If the judge finds ample evidence, it will confirm the ban for five years,” he added.
PFI will get a chance to present its case before the tribunal. The tribunal will then issue an order either confirming the ban or cancel it based on arguments from both sides. The entire process will be completed within six months.
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