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Pursuant to an order recently passed by the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act Tribunal, the faction of the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front headed by Yasin Malik (JKLF-Y) has been deemed as an unlawful association under the UAPA Act.
Reports suggest that after this order passed on September 20, the Central government is planning to sanction prosecution against Yasin Malik.
On March 22 this year, the Centre had declared the JKLF-Y, spearheaded by Yasin Malik, as an “unlawful association” under the UAPA Act. A notification issued to that effect levelled the following allegations against JKLF-Y:
The Centre also stated that if allowed to carry on, JKLF-Y was likely to escalate its subversive activities, continue advocating the secession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir from the Union of India, propagate anti-national and separatist sentiments, support militancy, and incite violence in the country.
As required under the Act, a Tribunal headed by a High Court judge was constituted to conduct an inquiry into the allegations levelled against Yasin Malik and his organisation. Justice Chander Shekhar of the Delhi High Court was chosen to constitute this Tribunal. Notice was issued to JKLF-Y on April 24 this year.
Before the Tribunal, the Centre placed on record details of a total of 98 FIRs lodged against JKLF-Y. The offences named in the FIRs included kidnapping, illegally channelizing the funds from outside India for the purpose of fomenting terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir, and inciting hatred against the government. JKLF-Y was earlier banned in 1991, but the same was later lifted.
During the proceedings before the Tribunal, JKLF-Y had filed an application seeking permission to procure the following documents from the Union of India:
However, the Tribunal dismissed the application on September 12, and the matter was listed for arguments on September 16.
Counsel appearing for JKLF-Y argued that the Centre wrongly misused the doctrine of confidentiality by producing certain documents in sealed covers, thereby depriving the respondents of their rights of a fair trial. It was argued that unless the association is made aware of the material being placed by the Centre before the Tribunal in a sealed cover, it cannot be expected to appropriately defend itself against the allegations contained in those documents.
It was also argued that the ban on JKLF-Y is patently illegal, unconstitutional and vindictive. This, it was contended, was clear from the fact that soon after banning the association, the Government abrogated Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India, thereby suppressing the voice of the Kashmiri natives represented by the JKLF-Y.
Moreover, it was argued that Yasin Malik has never espoused the cause of secession and/or terrorism.
The allegations levelled against the organisation were nothing but protests against the atrocities of the ruling Government and there is a marked difference between ‘protesting’ and being ‘anti-national’, it was further contended.
Lastly, it was argued that the Union of India has failed to produce any evidence in support of the contention that JKLF-Y has links with terror groups and is being funded by the same for carrying out unlawful activities threatening the sovereignty of the nation.
On the question of the evidence presented in sealed covers, the Tribunal made a reference to Rule 5 of the UAP Rules, which provides that the Central Government is under no obligation to disclose any fact to the Tribunal that it considers against the “public interest” to disclose.
Justice Shekhar noted that though every document produced by the Centre in a sealed cover cannot be accepted on its face value, it is necessary that each and every document produced by the Government be made available to the association. However, the Tribunal noted, sensitive information and intelligence inputs or their sources are not to be placed in public domain. The order notes,
“Having gone through each of the documents in sealed covers separately and having examined the character, content and source of the documents, I am convinced that these are credible documents which deserve to be taken into consideration while assessing the sufficiency of cause before the Central Government while banning the respondent Association and that these credible documents worthy of reliance and corroboration cannot be put in public domain, in public interest as it may invite danger and harm to the vulnerable identities. The documents were re-sealed after examination.”
The Tribunal also noted that the Centre produced 8 witnesses in support of its case to ban JKLF-Y, which produced none. After examining the witnesses, going through the FIRs and evidence in sealed covers, the Tribunal held that the Yasin Malik-led organisation has been actively indulging in and supporting anti-national activities.
On the question of being targeted for merely carrying out protests in the region, the Tribunal noted,
“There is a significant difference in protesting on an issue and protesting for territorial sovereignty. There are statements attributed to Mohd.Yasin Malik as also to the office-bearers of the respondent Association which are separatists in character and support extremism and militancy in Jammu & Kashmir. Such statements have the potential of instigating sentiments which ultimately become prejudicial to the territorial integrity and security of the country.”
Noting that the Centre followed the procedure laid down in the statute, the Tribunal confirmed the notification passed by the Centre under Section 4 of the Act, declaring JKLF-Y as an “unlawful association”.
Before the Tribunal, the Centre was represented by a team led by Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj. Advocate RM Tufail led the team of counsel appearing for JKLF-Y
Read the order: