The Karnataka High Court has rejected the Social Democratic Party of India’s (SDPI) plea seeking to unseal its properties in Mangalore. The Karnataka government sealed SDPI’s properties following the Government of India’s ban on the banned terrorist organisation Popular Front of India (PFI). It is pertinent to note that SDPI is the political wing of PFI.
The court said, “Therefore, the petitioner has an alternative remedy which is statutory and necessarily to be availed of, in the peculiar facts of this case, as recording of evidence for the acts of the State is imperative,” while observing that the ban on SDPI’s properties was imposed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
SDPI argued that the ban on PFI is limited to it and its associates, and argued that it “was not one of those entities which were declared to be associates of PFI.”
The State government opposed unsealing of SDPI’s offices, contending that the sealed offices were being used by the banned terrorist organisation. The court said, “The notification by which the Union Government directs the State Government to act in a particular manner cannot be considered in the absence of any evidence.”
“More so, in the light of the contention that the State Government has acted beyond the powers conferred on it would be neither here nor there as the State Government has, on certain inputs to it, imposed seals or clamped upon the offices of the petitioner along with others,” the court added.
Government of India bans PFI
On September 28, 2022, the Government of India banned PFI, its associates, and affiliates as an unlawful association with immediate effect for a period of five years under the UAPA.
The Government of India’s notification read, “There had been a number of instances of international linkages of PFI with Global Terrorist Groups the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts have been working covertly to increase radicalization of one community by promoting a sense of insecurity in the country, which is substantiated by the fact that some PFI cadres have joined international terrorist organisations.”
The PFI is involved in several “criminal and terror cases and shows sheer disrespect towards the constitutional authority of the country and with funds and ideological support from outside it has become a major threat to the internal security of the country,” read the notification.