CBI moves Supreme Court challenging Bombay HC order restraining coercive action against Lawyers Collective

CBI moves Supreme Court challenging Bombay HC order restraining coercive action against Lawyers Collective

Bar & Bench

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has moved the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court’s order restraining the investigation agency from taking any coercive action against the NGO Lawyers Collective, run by Senior Advocates Anand Grover and Indira Jaising.

Speaking to Bar & Bench, the Advocate on Record for Jaising, who is on caveat, has confirmed that a Special Leave Petition was filed yesterday against the Bombay High Court’s protective order passed in July this year.

On July 25, a Division Bench of the High Court had granted interim relief to the NGO and its members after a plea was moved to quash the FIR lodged by the CBI alleging a violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010 and offences under IPC.

Lawyers Collective, Grover and others are booked for suspected offences of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating, making of false statement in the declaration under the FCRA 2010, and criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. In addition to invoking the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the CBI has charged them under Sections 33, 35, 37, and 39 of the FCRA 2010 and Section 13(2) with Section 13(1)(d) of the PC Act.

The Home Ministry’s complaint had stated that after prima facie irregularities were found, a response from Lawyers Collective was sought. The reply was submitted by the NGO in March 2016 but was found to be unsatisfactory. Thus, the Ministry suspended Lawyers Collective’s FCRA registration pending appropriate action. Subsequently, a show-cause notice was issued under the provisions of the FCRA.

In July 2016, a written reply was submitted by the NGO, which was again found to be unsatisfactory and did not provide “adequate explanation vis-a-vis the violations found”. Eventually, in November 2016, the MHA cancelled the FCRA registration for Lawyers Collective.

In connection with the investigation into the matter,  the CBI also carried out raids at the Mumbai and Delhi offices and residences of Grover and Singh in July.

The CBI filed its FIR against Lawyers Collective only after a PIL was moved by an NGO named Lawyers Voice in May, seeking a direction to the Central government for registration of an FIR against Jaising, Grover, and Lawyers Collective for offences under the IPC, PMLA and PC Act.

A petition challenging the cancellation of Lawyers Collective’s FCRA registration is pending before the Supreme Court.

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