Hearing on ban of Zakir Naik’s IRF to be held in-camera

NEW DELHI: Proceedings on the issue of a ban on Dr. Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) would be held in-camera in view of the allegations made against the organisation and the confidential material to be scrutinised by a tribunal.

This was decided on Thursday by Delhi high court’s Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, who is presiding over the tribunal set up under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

The tribunal allowed the Centre’s plea for in-camera hearing, keeping in view the scheme of the Act, the allegations against the IRF of radicalising the youth and confidentiality of the material to be scrutinised during the proceedings.

Further proceedings are expected to be held on March 17, 18 and 20 for recording of evidence.

IRF had opposed the Centre’s plea for in-camera hearing, saying it was a “garb” to deny them the material relied upon to ban the organisation.

Additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain, on the other hand, had then contended that the “subject matter was sensitive” and there was a possibility that it could be disclosed during the proceedings before the tribunal.

IRF had earlier moved the tribunal against the November 17, 2016 notification of the ministry of home affairs (MHA) imposing the ban on it.

However, since the tribunal declined to hear the matter before February 6, the foundation had moved the high court challenging the ban.

Defending its decision before the high court, the government had claimed that the organisation was banned as there was an apprehension that youths could be “radicalised” to join terror groups. IRF had opposed the contention, saying no reason was given for the ban.

The Centre had said Mumbai police had lodged an FIR against six other members of IRF on a complaint by the father of a Kerala-based youth who had joined IS.