Lawyers Collective and its trustees including founding members Indira Jaising and Anand Grover has expressed “shock and outrage” over the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)’s move to register an FIR against the NGO.
A press statement issued by Lawyers Collective states that the First Information Report registered by the CBI is based solely on the proceedings under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 in which the NGO’s registration was cancelled by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2016.
The statement goes to suggest that this action is being taken since the NGO was involved in sensitive cases against top leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including present Home Minister Amit Shah. The statement refers to its reply submitted to the MHA in 2016 and states,
“Even at that time, LC had pointed out that the FCRA proceedings were taken against it because its office bearers had taken up sensitive cases against the leading figures of the BJP and the Government of India, including Mr. Amit Shah, the present Home Minister, in the Sorabbudin case, amongst others.”
Lawyers Collective highlights that the CBI had not acted for about two and a half years since the cancellation of its FCRA registration in 2016, since there was no criminality involved. There has been no material change in circumstances during this period, the press note states.
“There has been no change in circumstances or material on record since 2016 and hence the question arises what has changed between 2016 and 2019. There is no material to show that any of the provisions invoked under the under the IPC, PC Act have any basis.”
The press release draws a link between the filing of a PIL by an NGO Lawyers Voice in the Supreme Court and the action of the CBI. The PIL had sought a direction to the Centre to act against Lawyers Collective, and the Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had issued notice in the same. Lawyers Voice comprises lawyers from the BJP and its “main protagonist” is the head of the Legal Cell of the BJP in Delhi, the statement asserts.
“The FIR has been registered after the petition was filed by Lawyers Voice in the Supreme Court. The Lawyers Voice comprises lawyers from the BJP and its main protagonist is Mr. Neeraj is the head of the Legal Cell of the BJP in Delhi.”
Lawyers Collective states that its office bearers are being targeted for taking up crucial and sensitive cases such as detentions in relation to the Bhima Koregaon issue and the case involving former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar.
Reference is also made to members of the NGO voicing concerns “on the subversion of due process of law in the Courts in the matter of the alleged sexual harassment by a former employees of the Supreme Court of India.” The organization had claimed victimization following the filing of the PIL by Lawyers Voice.
The CBI has filed an FIR against Lawyers Collective and has named Anand Grover along with certain other functionaries of the organization and other private individuals. The FIR invokes provisions of the Indian Penal Code, FCRA and the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with cheating, criminal conspiracy and criminal breach of trust, among others.
Read the Press statement:
Image taken from here: