A Delhi court on Monday granted bail to eight persons accused in a case related to the ban on the Popular Front of India after the police failed to prove how could they possibly be involved in “unlawful activities” when they were under detention in the Tihar Jail at the time of the alleged offence, Live Law reported.

On September 28, the Centre had banned Islamic organisation Popular Front of India and its associates for five years under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act because of alleged terror activities.

On September 29, the eight persons were named in a first information report registered at the Shaheen Bagh police station in Delhi. They were accused of “advocating, abetting or inciting/assisting any unlawful activity of unlawful organisation [the Popular Front of India]”, Live Law reported.

On the basis of the FIR, the police arrested Mohd Shoaib, Abdul Rab, Habeeb Asghar Jamali and Mohd Waris Khan on October 3, alleging that six flags of the banned organisation had been recovered from them.

Two days later, the police arrested four others – Abdullah, Sheikh Gulfam Hussain, Mohd Shoeb and Mohsin Waqar – for allegedly shouting slogans in support of the Popular Front of India, and possessing flags and pamphlets of the organisation.

However, at the hearing at a sessions court on Monday, Additional Sessions Judge Sanjay Khanagwal noted that police records show the accused persons were already under preventive custody when the ban on the Popular Front of India was implemented, The Indian Express reported.

He observed that they had been taken into custody on September 27 and released from jail on October 2 and October 4, before being arrested soon again during the early hours of October 3 and October 5.

In his order, the judge said that the investigating officer could not produce sufficient incriminating material against the accused persons to show how they carried out unlawful activities while being in police custody.

The officer in the case had told the court that an investigation was underway to establish a link between the accused persons and bank statements of the Popular Front of India, according to Live Law.

However, the court held that evidence collected in the investigation could not prove how the financial pursuits of the accused persons advocated activities of the Popular Front of India after its ban came into effect.

Advocate Mujeeb Rehman, who appeared for some of the accused persons, told the court that his clients had been picked up unlawfully by the police, The Indian Express reported.

“...They were picked up from the jail itself and were not apprehended from the place as alleged against them,” the lawyer argued. He also presented CCTV camera footage before the court, claiming it showed how the accused persons were taken into custody.

However, the court refused to comment on the footage, observing that the registration numbers of the vehicles seen in the video were not clearly visible.

Ban on PFI

A government notification issued on September 28 alleged that the Popular Front of India and its eight affiliates or fronts have been involved in “violent terrorist activities” with an intent to create a reign of terror in the country, thereby endangering the security and public order of the state.

It also claimed that some of the founding members of the Popular Front of India are leaders of the Students Islamic Movement of India outfit and have links with the terror group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, both of which are proscribed organisations.

“The PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts operate openly as a socio-economic, educational and political organisation but, they have been pursuing a secret agenda to radicalise a particular section of the society working towards undermining the concept of democracy,” the notification claimed.