The Delhi High Court on Thursday said the Centre’s decision to ban controversial preacher Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation was made in the interest of “national security”, PTI reported. The bench dismissed Zakir Naik’s plea challenging the ban imposed on his NGO by the Home Ministry in November last year. The plea had no merit, the court said.

The high court also held that the government’s order was “not arbitrary and illegal”. “The decision by the Union of India was taken in the interest to safeguard the sovereignty, integrity and national security of India,” the bench said.

The matter is also being heard at a tribunal under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The bench advised the tribunal to not be influenced by the decision made by the Delhi High Court and decide on the matter on merit.

The IRF had contended that the MHA’s notification on November 17, 2016 did not give any reason or cite any material for taking such a step. It alleged that the ban had been imposed without giving the foundation any show cause notice.

In the hearing on February 1, the government had produced materials and files before the court on the basis of which it had imposed the ban on the IRF. The Centre also said it had shown an urgency in taking the step because it believed that Indian youths could be radicalised by the statements allegedly made by the IRF, PTI added.

The Centre had also accused Naik of making “derogatory” statements and “spreading communal disharmony”. Some terrorists and Islamic State sympathisers who had been arrested have claimed that they were motivated by speeches made by IRF members, the Centre claimed.

On November 15, 2016, the central government had banned the IRF for five years with immediate effect. The Cabinet had approved the decision because of Naik’s “objectionable and subversive” speeches, and because of the criminal cases against him and other members of the NGO that had been filed in Maharashtra’s Mumbai and Sindhudurg and in Kerala.

The televangelist has been on the government’s radar ever since allegations arose that he had inspired one of the terrorists behind the Dhaka restaurant attack on July 1, 2016. He was also accused of meeting two brothers from Kerala who were among those who went missing in West Asia and were feared to have joined the Islamic State group.