NEW DELHI: While the home ministry, in its notification banning the Popular Front of India (PFI) and all its associates, affiliates and fronts, has not specifically named its political arm Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) as an ‘unlawful assocation’, sources indicated that any SDPI leader or cadre who has also been active in PFI or indulges in any unlawful activity for which PFI and its fronts have been banned, will face the same consequences and action as member of any banned outfit of the PFI family.
TOI has learnt that SDPI was spared as it is a registered political party, swearing allegiance to the Constitution of India. However, any SDPI member who acts on behalf of PFI or indulges in subversive and anti-national activities or spreads communal hatred, raises funds by dubious means or tries to radicalise others, will be acted against under relevant laws, including UAPA.
In fact, a reading of the MHA’s ban notification leaves the door ajar for possible action against potential unlawful activities by SDPI leaders and cadres. “The Central government hereby declares the PFI, and its associations or affiliates including..,” it states while naming eight PFI fronts. The word ‘including’ is indication that the ambit of the ban goes well beyond the eight ‘named’ PFI fronts.
Also, the fact that SDPI is a registered unrecognised political party, it might be up to the Election Commission (EC) to take suitable action, possibly with inputs from the home ministry and based on the ban notification.
In fact, SDPI is already under the radar of the EC for failing to file its contribution reports for 2018-19 and 2019-20 (possibly as contributions were below Rs 20,000 each), even though it showed total receipts of over Rs 5 crore in 2018-19 and Rs 3.9 crore in 2019-20 in audited accounts. In 2020-21, when its contributions totalled almost Rs 2.9 crore, it only declared contributions worth Rs 22 lakh, that too without identifying the donors.
SDPI was also found to have collected Rs 10 crore of its total donations worth Rs 11.78 crore between 2018-19 and 2020-21, from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
SDPI on Wednesday described the ban on PFI and its associate organisations as a “direct blow to democracy”.