The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday issued notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs seeking response to a petition challenging the ban on Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir, The Hindu reported.

Jamaat-e-Islami is a socio-religious political organisation active in Jammu and Kashmir. The Kashmir branch broke away from Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and was founded in 1953. On February 28, the Centre declared the group an “unlawful association” for five years.

The ministry has been asked to file its response by April 22, reported The Indian Express. Mehraj Azeem, a former member of Jamaat-e-Islami, filed the petition before the High Court, saying the government had not followed procedure in banning the organisation. “The respondents should have stated the grounds to support its declaration,” the plea said.

The plea said pleaded that grounds for the ban cannot be opinions or subsidiary evidence and include dates of the offences, details of the first information reports registered by the police, or the details of the pending prosecution.

The petition said that banning an organisation without giving it a chance to represent its case is “violative of the Constitution safeguards” as it curtails the freedom of expression under Article 19 (1)(c) of the Constitution.

The petitioner argued that the ban was effected without seeking confirmation from a tribunal set up to look into the matter as mandated under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, reported Kashmir Reader. Rules state that the organisation, which has been declared unlawful, must be served a copy of the notification, the plea said.

The petitioner’s counsel claimed that the organisation has existed for more than six decades “with the sole intent of socio-religious well being of society” and has contested Assembly and parliamentary elections under a registered election symbol.

“By invoking bans, an unnecessarily larger threat is created as the same ideas gain greater currency once they are pushed underground, a point well recognised by the relevant Act itself,” the petitioner said.

After the ban came into effect, the Jammu and Kashmir Police launched a massive crackdown on the leaders of Jamaat by arresting close to 400 of its members.