The Lawyers Collective on Friday criticised the Central Bureau of Investigation raids on the homes and offices of senior advocates Indira Jaising and Anand Grover, saying they were “illegal, mala fide, and a blatant abuse of law”. The organisation released the statement a day after the investigating agency carried out the raids in a case related to alleged violation of rules under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
“The FIR [first information report] and the raids carried out are nothing but a vicious means to humiliate, intimidate and silence its Trustees, Ms Indira Jaising and Mr Anand Grover, whose fierce independence and advocacy for human rights, perturbs the political establishment of the day,” the non-governmental organisation said.
The Lawyers Collective said that the raids were conducted on the basis of the same Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act documents that were investigated by the Minitry of Home Affairs in 2016. “The FCRA authorities did not think it fit to initiate criminal proceedings at the time of inspection or even later, after cancellation of the Lawyers Collective’s registration in 2016,” the statement said. “The CBI could well have summoned the documents but they took the action to raid and humiliate Ms. Indira Jaising and Mr. Anand Grover. The events only reconfirm the malicious nature of the FCRA proceedings against the Lawyers Collective and its functionaries.”
The statement highlighted that the Central Bureau of Investigation had issued a press release while the raids were going on. Despite the Home Ministry’s cancellation of registrations for 18,867 NGOs under the FCRA, 2010, none of the organisations had been subjected to criminal prosecution, the Lawyers Collective said.
The organisation said that it was going to take appropriate action “against these unlawful and vindictive actions, in accordance with law”.
The unceremonious raids on the senior lawyers’ homes and offices in Delhi and Mumbai has attracted widespread criticism. Over 150 concerned citizens on Thursday condemned the raids, saying they were “nothing short of a brute show of intimidation as well as gross abuse of power”. The International Commission of Jurists also released a statement on the same day, denouncing the raids.
Lawyers Collective is accused of irregularities in receiving foreign aid worth more than Rs 32.39 crore between 2006 and 2007, and 2014 and 2015. According to the Home Ministry, the NGO’s FCRA registration was suspended in 2016 as its response to the allegations was not satisfactory. Lawyers Collective has said the FIR has “no basis in fact and in law” and has been filed to target and silence its office bearers for the cases they have taken up in the past.