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PFI Dissolved After Ban: What Happens To "Unlawful Associations" Under UAPA?

The Centre declared the PFI an unlawful association on 27 September. Soon after, the organization dissolved itself.

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Explainers
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Late Tuesday, 27 September, the Centre declared the Popular Front of India (PFI) an "unlawful association," and banned PFI and its affiliate and associated bodies under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, for a period of five years.

The declaration came after a week of raids by the National Investigation Agency on PFI properties across the country, and the arrests of nearly 100 members of the outfit.

A day after this declaration, the PFI announced that it had dissolved the organization in accordance with the government's decision.

The notification of PFI as an unlawful association was made under Section 3 of the UAPA.

While it hasn't done so as of this report, the Centre can also amend the list of terrorist organisations and add the PFI to a list of 42 terrorist organisations under Section 35 of the UAPA.

What does being declared an "unlawful association" under the UAPA mean? Here's a quick explainer.

PFI Dissolved After Ban: What Happens To "Unlawful Associations" Under UAPA?

  1. 1. Under What Provision of the UAPA Was PFI Banned?

    According to human rights lawyer and senior advocate Mihir Desai, the declaration of an outfit as unlawful can be done in two ways under the UAPA:

    • The first method, under section 3 of the UAPA, is by declaring the organisation "unlawful" via an official notification in The Gazette of India.

    • The second method, under section 35 of the UAPA, is by amending the act and adding the organization to a list of 42 terrorist organizations.

    The PFI ban came under the first method, with the Ministry of Home Affairs issuing a notification declaring PFI unlawful late 27 September.

    The ban extends to other associated bodies as well including the Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CFI), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala.

    The political arm of the PFI, the Socialist Democratic Party of India (SPPI), which has not been included in the list of banned outfits, called the notification "a challenge" against democracy.

    As of this report, the Centre hasn't amended the act and added PFI's name to the list of Terrorist Organisations in India, but this could change sooner rather than later.

    Expand
  2. 2. Why Does This Matter?

    The provisions used to declare an organisation "unlawful" under the UAPA matter, because it also determines the scope of punishment, bail rights, and other penalties that can be levied on the outfit.

    Senior Advocate Mihir Desai adds, "Normally, an organisation is declared unlawful and the declaration is referred to a tribunal for adjudication. But, the centre can, if it deems fit, pass an order declaring an organisation illegal under UAPA as well."

    As of this report, the PFI hasn't been added to the list under the same classification of terror outfits as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Khalistan Liberation Force, under Section 35 of the act.

    Expand
  3. 3. What Actions Can The Government Take Against PFI?

    Under Section 7 of the UAPA, the Central government can identify people who are in possession of money that is used or handled for the purposes of unlawful association and serve prohibitory orders on them to stop them from using, managing, or handling any funds for the activities of the unlawful association, in this case, the PFI.

    Under Section 8, the Centre can notify any properties it identifies as being used by or for unlawful associations and initiate action to prohibit gatherings or entry at the property.

    The Centre can also, as we mentioned earlier, amend the list of 42 terror organisations in India, and add PFI to the list of terror outfits banned in the country.

    Expand
  4. 4. What Punishments and Penalties Could PFI Members Face Under UAPA?

    Under Section 10 of the UAPA any person who attends the meetings of the PFI, contributes money to the outfit, or solicits contributions for the PFI, can face a prison sentence of up to two years under the UAPA.

    This will include any members of the PFI, anyone campaigning for funds or even donating/contributing money to the PFI, or anyone assisting with the operations of the outfit.

    Anyone organizing activities or events, and those attending said events could all face arrest and fines under this provision. This essentially throws a wrench in any meetings and gatherings the PFI may have planned in coming months.

    Under the same section, members of the PFI or anyone who voluntarily aids the PFI, who also own a weapon, explosive, or means of mass destruction, and commits any act that causes significant loss to property or life, or grievous injury, can face a minimum of five years in prison, which can extend to life imprisonment, and a fine.

    "Anyone arrested before the notification was issued cannot be charged under these sections of the UAPA for involvement with unlawful associations, however, they can still be charged with terror activities."
    Mihir Desai, Human Rights Lawyer

    If their actions result in the deaths of any persons, their punishment could extend to the death sentence.

    Under Section 13, anyone who incites, aids, or abets the commission of an unlawful activity can face imprisonment of up to seven years.

    The same section provides for up to five years imprisonment for assisting in the commission of any unlawful activities.

    Expand
  5. 5. What Punishments Can People Face For Aiding or Associating With PFI?

    Under Section 11 of the UAPA, anyone who handles, transfers, or manages the funds of the organisation, including "moneys, securities or credits" can face up to three years imprisonment and a fine. The Centre can also order recovery of the money/funds from the person.

    Section 12 of the UAPA provides for a prison sentence that could extend to one year for people who use or enter any properties which have been declared as places being used by or unlawful associations by the Centre under Section 8.

    Advocate Mihir Desai adds that only people who ordinarily live in that place will be allowed to enter and use it, if it's a place of residence.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

Under What Provision of the UAPA Was PFI Banned?

According to human rights lawyer and senior advocate Mihir Desai, the declaration of an outfit as unlawful can be done in two ways under the UAPA:

  • The first method, under section 3 of the UAPA, is by declaring the organisation "unlawful" via an official notification in The Gazette of India.

  • The second method, under section 35 of the UAPA, is by amending the act and adding the organization to a list of 42 terrorist organizations.

The PFI ban came under the first method, with the Ministry of Home Affairs issuing a notification declaring PFI unlawful late 27 September.

The ban extends to other associated bodies as well including the Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CFI), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala.

The political arm of the PFI, the Socialist Democratic Party of India (SPPI), which has not been included in the list of banned outfits, called the notification "a challenge" against democracy.

As of this report, the Centre hasn't amended the act and added PFI's name to the list of Terrorist Organisations in India, but this could change sooner rather than later.

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Why Does This Matter?

The provisions used to declare an organisation "unlawful" under the UAPA matter, because it also determines the scope of punishment, bail rights, and other penalties that can be levied on the outfit.

Senior Advocate Mihir Desai adds, "Normally, an organisation is declared unlawful and the declaration is referred to a tribunal for adjudication. But, the centre can, if it deems fit, pass an order declaring an organisation illegal under UAPA as well."

As of this report, the PFI hasn't been added to the list under the same classification of terror outfits as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Khalistan Liberation Force, under Section 35 of the act.

0

What Actions Can The Government Take Against PFI?

Under Section 7 of the UAPA, the Central government can identify people who are in possession of money that is used or handled for the purposes of unlawful association and serve prohibitory orders on them to stop them from using, managing, or handling any funds for the activities of the unlawful association, in this case, the PFI.

Under Section 8, the Centre can notify any properties it identifies as being used by or for unlawful associations and initiate action to prohibit gatherings or entry at the property.

The Centre can also, as we mentioned earlier, amend the list of 42 terror organisations in India, and add PFI to the list of terror outfits banned in the country.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

What Punishments and Penalties Could PFI Members Face Under UAPA?

Under Section 10 of the UAPA any person who attends the meetings of the PFI, contributes money to the outfit, or solicits contributions for the PFI, can face a prison sentence of up to two years under the UAPA.

This will include any members of the PFI, anyone campaigning for funds or even donating/contributing money to the PFI, or anyone assisting with the operations of the outfit.

Anyone organizing activities or events, and those attending said events could all face arrest and fines under this provision. This essentially throws a wrench in any meetings and gatherings the PFI may have planned in coming months.

Under the same section, members of the PFI or anyone who voluntarily aids the PFI, who also own a weapon, explosive, or means of mass destruction, and commits any act that causes significant loss to property or life, or grievous injury, can face a minimum of five years in prison, which can extend to life imprisonment, and a fine.

"Anyone arrested before the notification was issued cannot be charged under these sections of the UAPA for involvement with unlawful associations, however, they can still be charged with terror activities."
Mihir Desai, Human Rights Lawyer

If their actions result in the deaths of any persons, their punishment could extend to the death sentence.

Under Section 13, anyone who incites, aids, or abets the commission of an unlawful activity can face imprisonment of up to seven years.

The same section provides for up to five years imprisonment for assisting in the commission of any unlawful activities.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

What Punishments Can People Face For Aiding or Associating With PFI?

Under Section 11 of the UAPA, anyone who handles, transfers, or manages the funds of the organisation, including "moneys, securities or credits" can face up to three years imprisonment and a fine. The Centre can also order recovery of the money/funds from the person.

Section 12 of the UAPA provides for a prison sentence that could extend to one year for people who use or enter any properties which have been declared as places being used by or unlawful associations by the Centre under Section 8.

Advocate Mihir Desai adds that only people who ordinarily live in that place will be allowed to enter and use it, if it's a place of residence.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  PFI   PFI Ban 

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