The Ministry of Home Affairs has cancelled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act registration of Lawyers Collective, a non-governmental organisation run by advocate Indira Jaising, The Indian Express reported. The organisation is no longer permitted to accept funding from abroad. The cancellation follows the suspension of the NGO’s foreign funding licence six months ago.
In its order dated November 27, the ministry said NGO’s returns had discrepancies in the foreign funding section. It accused Jaising of violating the FCRA rules by receiving foreign funding while serving as the additional solicitor general under the United Progressive Alliance government.
“Strangely enough, the order was passed on a Sunday, when government offices are closed,” Jaising said in an email to the English daily. She dismissed the allegations as “absolutely false and defamatory” and said her team was discussing ways to challenge the order. Jaising also urged the government to make its intelligence reports on the matter public, “so that we have an opportunity to challenge the reports against us”.
Jaising and her Supreme Court lawyer husband Anand Grover have been involved in many high-profile cases, including defending terror convict Yakub Memon. The organisation also represented Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai in a case that was widely seen as a suit to stifle dissent against the establishment.
Moreover, Lawyers Collective said the move was “only a continuation of the harassment and persecution of the organisation, especially of its two trustees”, Jaising and Grover. “It is a gross abuse of powers by the government...and a clear attack on the right to free speech and association guaranteed by the Constitution.”
The NGO further accused the case of being “nothing but an attempt to discredit the long-standing credibility of the organisation and its trustees”. “It is preposterous to allege that LC has acted against public interest,” the statement said, adding that they were exploring all legal options to challenge the order.
On November 16, the National Human Rights Commission had issued a notice to the Centre on its non-renewal of NGOs’ licences to receive foreign funding. On November 11, the Home Affairs Ministry had barred 1,736 NGOs from receiving foreign funds after they failed to renew their licence under the FCRA by November 8. A fortnight before that, more than 11,000 NGOs had lost their FCRA licences. Currently, fewer than 19,000 NGOs are permitted to receive foreign funds. Two years ago, there were around 42,500 FCRA-registered NGOs.