The High Court of Karnataka has rejected a petition filed by Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) seeking to unseal its properties in Mangaluru which came to be sealed by the authorities following the ban imposed by the Central Government on the organisation Popular Front of India (PFI).
The authorities had sealed nine office premises of SDPI in Mangaluru on September 28, 2022 on the charge of being used for the activities of the PFI, which was banned under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The SDPI had claimed that it was not one of those entities that were declared to be associates of PFI and therefore the very act of the State government in searching and sealing the offices of the SDPI was contrary to law.
The petitioner submitted that it is a political party and has its representation all over India, more particularly, in the Dakshina Kannada district. It was claimed that the political party is in the forefront of empowerment of the deprived sections of the society by divisive forces through its political movement.
A single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna observed that the notifications to seal the premises were issued under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. "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.”
“Merely because all the offices in Mangaluru are sealed and not anywhere else would not mean that evidence would not be required for the petitioner to prove its case in terms of Section 8 of the UAP Act,” said Justice M. Nagaprasanna.
On September 27, 2022, the Central Government declared PFI and its associates or affiliates or Fronts as unlawful associations. It also empowered State Governments and Union territories to exercise powers under Sections 7 (Power to prohibit the use of funds of an unlawful association) and 8 (Power to notify places used for the purpose of an unlawful association) of the Act. Based on the aforesaid notification, several raids took place in the city of Mangaluru. While so doing, certain campuses and places which were being allegedly used by several organisations were sealed and a few such offices of the petitioner/SDPI were also sealed in Mangaluru.
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