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April 17, 2021

TLP ban: Multiple grave consequences could ensue for outlawed organisation

Top Story

April 17, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has sweeping powers to proscribe any organisation that is found involved in three activities, the principal among them being terrorism.

Under the law, the central government may proceed on an ex-parte basis in banning an entity. The interior ministry’s notification, proscribing the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), has been sent to numerous institutions for “information and necessary action”.

They include the State Bank of Pakistan, ministries of finance, foreign affairs and Kashmir affairs & Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), the National Security Division, Election Commission of Pakistan, National Counterterrorism Authority, Islamabad chief commissioner, home secretaries of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir and GB, Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, the Federal Investigation Agency, Immigration & Passport and the Financial Monitoring Unit.

The Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 spells out the grounds that lead to the outlawing of a body. The federal government proscribed the TLP under this law for the violence it perpetrated for three days in different parts of Pakistan. Section 11B, which has been invoked, says the federal government may list an organisation as a proscribed entity on an ex-parte basis, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that it is involved in terrorism or is owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by any individual or organisation proscribed under the ATA or acting on behalf of, or at the direction of, any individual or organisation banned under this law.

The section says the opinion concerning ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ may be formed on the basis of information received from any credible source, whether domestic or foreign, including governmental and regulatory authorities, law enforcement agencies, financial intelligence units, banks and non-banking companies and international institutions.

The government will communicate the grounds of prohibition to the proscribed organisation within three days of the passing of the order. That is why a copy of the interior ministry’s order proscribing the TLP was also sent to its chief under-custody, Allama Saad Rizvi.

The law says if the organisation is aggrieved by such an order, it may, within 30 days, file a review application before the federal government, which will, after hearing the applicant, decide the matter on reasonable grounds within 90 days. If the review is declined, the organisation may file an appeal to the high court within 30 days. The federal government will constitute a proscription review committee comprising three officers, including a representative of the federal law ministry, to decide any review petition within 30 days.

Certain stringent actions, which are enumerated in Section 11E, will follow the issuance of the proscription order by the government. The offices of the banned organisation will be sealed; all literature, posters, banners, or printed, electronic, digital or other material will be seized; and publication, printing or dissemination of any press statements, press conferences or public utterances by or on behalf of or in support of a proscribed organisation will be prohibited.

After the banning of an organisation, if its office bearers, activists, members or associates are found continuing the activities of the outlawed entity in addition to any other action under the ATA or any other law for the time being in force to which they may be liable, they will not be issued any passport or allowed to travel abroad. No bank or financial institution or any other entity providing financial support will give any loan facility or financial support to such persons or issue credit cards to such persons.

Arms licenses, if already issued, will be deemed to have been cancelled and the arms will be deposited immediately at the nearest police station, failing which such arms will be confiscated and their holders will be liable to the punishment provided under the Pakistan Arms Ordinance. No fresh license will be issued to such persons for any kind of weapons.

The proscribed organisation will submit all accounts of its income and expenditure for its political and social welfare activities and disclose all funding sources to the competent authority designated by the federal government.