Response on the Suspension of Registration under the FC(Regulation) Act, 2010 : Lawyers Collective

Guest Post by Lawyers Collective

The Lawyers Collective condemns the blatant attempt  of the government of India to victimize the organization and its office bearers India Jaisng and Anand Grover .This is noting but a gross misuse of the FCRA Act which is being used to suppress any form  of dissent . it is far too well know that both Anand Grover and Indira Jaising have represented several persons in their professional capacity as lawyers is several cases against the government and the functionaries including  the President of the BJP party ,  Amit Shah  protesting his discharge in the Sorabudin murder case . The lawyers collective intends to challenge the order as   unconstitutional and required to be set aside . 

The order/show cause notice is a malafide act and an act of vindictiveness on the part of the Government. This is being done because of the cases that Lawyers Collective (‘LC’) and its Trustees, Ms. Indira Jaising and Mr. Anand Grover, are involved in, including but are not limited to Sanjiv Bhatt, Yakub Memon and Priya Pillai. The aim is to destroy the credibility of LC by leaking it to the media, before even serving it on LC. LC till today has not received the order purportedly issued on 31st May, 2016, though it is available to the press. Specifically on the order, LC submits as follows:

  1. At the outset, LC states that all the foreign contribution (‘FC’) received were spent for the purposes received and accounted for.
  1. The allegation against Ms. Jaising was based on the footing that she was a government servant, who was prohibited from receiving FC under the FCRA. However, she was a public servant and not a government servant, on whom there was no bar to receive FC. In any event, FC was received only by LC and Ms. Jaising was only paid remuneration for her services rendered to LC, on whom there is no prohibition. This aspect has not even been looked at by the authorities.
  1. So far as Mr. Anand Grover is concerned, it was the mandate of LC to work on the issue of Fundamental Rights, including the right to health. The work of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Right to Health was part of LC’s work. No money was received by Anand Grover as foreign contribution. He was only reimbursed expenses incurred by him, while abroad, for doing LC’s work, including telephone and internet expenses.
  1. The Novartis case is part of LC’s mandate to work on access to medicines. Expenses were only incurred for that, including for Ms. Jaising for her advice on the case.
  1. Expenses for workshops/seminars/conferences are part of the mandate of LC and money is spent only for that purpose. This allegation is made for the first time now and not in the observation report dated 29.02.2016.
  1. The FC received from abroad can be spent abroad. There is no restriction in FCRA at all.
  2. LC entered into legitimate contracts with foreigners to provide services in India and abroad. And expenses were incurred for that reason. There is no violation of FCRA at all.
  1. The receipt of FC in FC-utilisation account and, opening of certain bank accounts, transfer of FC from FC-utilization to another utilisation account and from local accounts to FC-utilisation has been explained in detail in the Association reply dated to the Inspection Report but not considered.
  1. No money was spent on rallies or dharnas having any political hue or colour. FCRA, 2010 was not applicable for expenses incurred in 2009, while in 2011 and 2014, it was spent from domestic/United Nations funding, which is exempt from FCRA.

3 thoughts on “Response on the Suspension of Registration under the FC(Regulation) Act, 2010 : Lawyers Collective”

    Stop Persecuting Lawyers Collective!

    PUCL strongly condemns the continued persecution of Senior Advocates Indira Jaising and Anand Grover and the `Lawyers Collective’ organisation run by them, by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) using the coercive provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 in an arbitrary, biased and politically motivated manner.

    The vindictiveness is evident from the fact that the Order dated 31.5.2016 of the Central Government suspending the FCRA registration of Lawyers Collective for 6 months was leaked to the Press even before it was formally communicated to them. Even earlier in November, 2015 media articles reported that Show Cause notices were issued to the Lawyers Collective for violation of FCRA even though no such Notice was received by the Lawyers Collective. Thus there is a pattern to the actions of the MHA by first launching a smear campaign tarnishing the image of Lawyers Collective even before an enquiry.

    A plain reading of the alleged violations of FCRA by the Lawyers Collective do not reveal any evidence of financial fraud or defalcation having occurred. All the queries raised by the MHA appear to be technical in nature. It’s very clear that the MHA has launched a witch hunt against yet another NGO which has been consistently taking up in a principled manner issues of human rights violations in the State of Gujarat and accountability of the political leaders to excesses committed under their watch.

    It is also pertinent to point out that Indira Jaisingh and Anand Grover have defended the cases of Priya Pillai of Greenpeace, Teesta Setalvad, Yakub Menon and Sanjiv Bhat, the former IPS officer from Gujarat. Anand Grover has also appeared in the case protesting the discharge of BJP National President Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin encounter case. The present action against the Lawyers Collective is calculated to create a climate of fear and intimidation in an attempt to silence anyone from challenging the present BJP Government.
    Indira Jaising, Anand Grover and the Lawyers Collective team have for the last 4 decades stood for the rights of the most marginalised sections of society – from tribals to urban poor to rights of unorganised sector workers; from women to sexual minorities; from victims of communal violence to issues of HIV patients – they have been in the forefront of all major struggles to secure justice. Their contribution to the development of law and jurisprudence is unparalleled. Noteworthy is the role played by Indira Jaising and Lawyers Collective in the framing and implementation of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Harassment Acts. They have always enjoyed the fairest of reputations for their ethical and principled conduct inside and outside courts.

    It is ironical that while there is a relentless plundering of national and natural resources by the corporates and unearthing of a regular stream of corporate scams exposing massive financial fraud and diversion of money to foreign lands, little or no action is being taken by the Central Government in this regard. In stark contrast, activists and NGOs fighting against the plundering and looting of national wealth and natural resources, environmental degradation and violation of rights of people are being targeted over frivolous charges. Lawyers Collective, Indira Jaisingh and Anand Grover are the latest victims to join the long list of people being targeted by the Central Government.

    PUCL demands that the central government immediately drop the witch hunt against Indira Jaisingh, Anand Grover and the Lawyers Collective under the FCRA. We would like to remind the Central Government that such repressive actions meant to silence groups and suppress dissent not only destroys the democratic fabric of our society but also eventually damages the standing of India as a democratic country in the comity of nations of the world.

    Sd/ –

    Dr. V. Suresh, National General Secretary, PUCL

    Prof. Prabhakar Sinha, National President, PUCL


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