Even as the Central government and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) continue their pursuit against Lawyers Collective, members from different walks of civil society have issued a statement in support of the NGO..Last week, the CBI filed an FIR against Lawyers Collective for alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). In response, Lawyers Collective had claimed that its office bearers – including Senior Advocates Anand Grover and Indira Jaising – were being targeted for taking up crucial and sensitive cases..And now, a statement has been released criticising the government for its increasing tendency “to curb the voice of the people, which is the very essence of democracy”..Signatories standing in solidarity with Lawyers Collective include lyricist and writer Javed Akhtar, actors Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah, and activist Teesta Setalvad..From the legal fraternity, Dr. Anup Surendranath; Senior Advocates Rajani Iyer, Gayatri Singh, and Sanjay Singhvi; and a host of lawyers including Karuna Nundy, Veena Gowda, and Trideep Pais came forward in support of the NGO..Here is the full statement in support of Lawyers Collective:.We, the undersigned concerned citizens, are extremely perturbed at the increasing tendency of the Government, through its agencies, to use excessive power to curb the voice of the people, which is the very essence of democracy.The work of Lawyers Collective in general and Indira Jaising and Anand Grover, in particular,has contributed to changing the lives not just of individuals but of citizens of a democratic republic. They have not only represented the rights of individuals and communities such as slum dwellers, workers, trade unions, prisoners, SC/ST associations, Bhopal Gas tragedy victims, women, LGBTQ+ and other marginalised communities as lawyers, but have also contributed immensely to the discourse of human rights and state accountability as public intellectuals.They represent a commitment to the country that our founding leaders envisioned and that is enshrined in our Constitution. They have fearlessly exercised their right to not just freedom of speech and expression but the fundamental right of every citizen to hold the Government and Institutions of the day accountable. This is a right that every constitutional democracy must seek to protect for its citizenry.The registration of an FIR against them under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code, on the very allegations that are already under challenge before the High Court of Bombay, is a clear sign of executive haste and overreach. Pillorying them in this manner would deprive vulnerable sections of society of the benefit of representation of such high calibre and commitment. We do not wish to see a future where the voices of people such as Indira Jaising and Anand Grover are curtailed and the attempt of the State to do so must be strongly criticized.We must today as citizens of a free country, stand with those who have for the last four decades stood with us. We call upon the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the courts of law to desist from the unjustified and vindictive use of Criminal Law on the likes of Indira Jaising, Anand Grover or any citizen of this country.Signatories:.Anju Dodiya, Artist, MumbaiAtul Dodiya, Artist, MumbaiAmar Kanwar, Artist, Film maker New DelhiArundhathi Nag, Theatre Director-Actor, BengaluruAtul Kumar, Theatre Director-Actor, MumbaiAva Bhavsar, Artist, AhmedabadAmol k Patil, Artist, MumbaiAmir Rizvi, Artist, MumbaiArchana Hande, Artist, MumbaiAnant Joshi, Artist, MumbaiAnuradha Kapur – Theatre maker, New DelhiAmmu Joseph, Senior journalist, BengaluruAjay Noronha, Cinematographer/ Filmmaker, MumbaiAnjali Monteiro, Filmmaker and academic, Mumbai (TISS)Abhro Banerjee, Film editorAparna Andhare, Museum Professional, Mumbai & JaipurAditi Ray, Journalist, KolkataAnand Patwardhan, Filmmaker, MumbaiArpita Singh, Artist, New Delhi (Padma Shri)Anjum Singh, Artist, New DelhiAbhujeet Tamhane, Art critic, MumbaiArijit Bhattacharyya, Artist, West BengalArunesh, Sangama, Resource Centre on Sexuality, BengaluruAntara Dev Sen, Journalist, New DelhiAnjali Damania, Advocate, MumbaiAvijit Mukul Kishore, Filmmaker, MumbaiAnup Surendranath, Lawyer, Professor, MumbaiDr Bernard Imhasly, Journalist, MumbaiBharatesh G D, Visual Artist, BangaloreBehroze Gandhy, Filmmaker, LondonBalachandran Ramiah, Investments, MumbaiBharati Kapadia, Artist, MumbaiBina Sarkar Ellias, Poet, Editor & Publisher, BombayBabu Eshwar Prasad, Artist, BangaloreBrinelle D’Souza, TISS, PUCL, ICWM, MumbaiChitra Palekar, Film Writer and Director, MumbaiCharles Williams, BPO Operations, MumbaiChhatrapati Dutta, Artist, KolkataChitra Joshi – Academic, DelhiDhruvi Acharya, Visual Artist, MumbaiDilip Ranade, Artist, ThaneDiksha Sharma, Filmmaker, MumbaiDanish Husain, Theatre Artist, MumbaiDibeyendu Ganguly, Journalist, MumbaiDeepti Gopinath, Secretary, Indian Airports Employees Union, MumbaiFrancis Pullambra, Self-employed, MumbaiFranklyn D’souza, former President, Hindustan Lever Employees UnionGeorge Jose, Academic, MumbaiGopalji Pradhan, Professor, Hindi School of Letters, Ambedkar University, DelhiGayatri Kodikal, Artist and Writer, RotterdamGeeta Kapur, Art historian, New DelhiV Geetha, Scholar on feminism and caste, Publisher & Co-director, Tara Books, ChennaiGayatri Singh, Senior Advocate, MumbaiGeeta Seshu, Journalist, MumbaiGautam Mody, General Secretary, NTUIHardik Doshi, Investment Fund Advisor, MumbaiHussain Indorewala, Asst. Professor & Architect, MumbaiIndu Chandrasekhar, Publisher, Tulika Books, DelhiAparna, President, IFTUAnita Rampal, Academic, New DelhiAbhijeet Tamhane, Art Critic, Mumbai.Ina Puri, Art Promoter, New DelhiIra Bhaskar, Professor, New DelhiJaved Akhtar, Writer, MumbaiJitish Kallat, Artist, MumbaiJhelum Paranjape, Dancer, Teacher & Choreographer, MumbaiJahangir Jani, Artist, MumbaiJustin Ponmany, Visual Artist, MumbaiJane Cox, Lawyer, MumbaiJyotsna Murthy, Entrepreneur, BangaloreJyoti Punwani, Journalist, MumbaiKausik Mukhopadhyay, Artist, MumbaiKP Jayasankar, Filmmaker & Academic, Mumbai (TISS)Krishna Rao, Independent Consultant, BangaloreKrishnapriya C P, Visual artist/Curator, ChennaiKumkum Sangari, Professor, New DelhiKamini Tanka, Professor, New DelhiKaruna Nundy, Advocate, New DelhiKirti Jain, Theatre, DelhiKeval Arora, Academic, DelhiKavita Singh, Art Historian, Professor, School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU, New DelhiLara Jesani, Advocate, MumbaiLubaina Rangwala, Urban Planner, MumbaiLN Tallur, Artist, KoteshwaraLaxmi Murthy, Journalist, BengaluruMadhushree Dutta, FilmmakerMeeta Jain, Architect, BangaloreMansore, Artist & Filmmaker, BengaluruMeera Devidayal, Artist, MumbaiMansi Bhatt, Artist, MumbaiMandira Mitra, Advocate, New DelhiMaya Rao, Theatre artist, DelhiMohan Rao, Professor (retired), BangaloreMithu Sen, Artist, New DelhiMamta Murthy Filmmaker, MumbaiMitra Mukherjee Parikh, Academic, MumbaiNilima Sheikh, Artist, VadodaraNaseeruddin Shah, Actor, MumbaiNityanand Jayaraman, Journalist & Social ActivistNeeladri Bhattacharya, Historian, DelhiNimi Ravindran, Producer, Writer, Director, BangaloreNeera Adarkar, Architect, MumbaiOli Ghosh, Artist and Art Educationist, MumbaiPushpamala N, Artist, BangalorePriyanka Jain, Visual Artist, DelhiPrajakta Potnis, Artist, MumbaiPersis Anklesaria, Retired, MumbaiPremjish Achari, Art Historian/Curator, DelhiPoorna Swami, Choreographer & Writer, BangaloreParamjit Singh, Artist, New DelhiPriyanka Raja, Gallerist, KolkataPrabhavathi Meppayil, Artist, BangalorePravin Nadkar, Trade Union Centre of India (TUCI), MaharashtraPreeti Sharma Menon, AAPPrabodh Parikh, Poet & Writer, MumbaiRajani Iyer, Senior Advocate, MumbaiRatna Pathak Shah, Actor, MumbaiReena Kallat, Artist, MumbaiRavi Kulkarni, Lawyer, MumbaiRohan Shivkumar, Academic, Architect & Urban Designer, MumbaiRakhi Peswani, Artist, BangaloreRanjit Kandalgaonkar, Visual Artist, MumbaiRashna Imhasly-Gandhy, Psychologist, MumbaiRina Kamath, Legal Practitioner, MumbaiRadhi Parekh, Designer, MumbaiReetha Balsavar, Theatre, MumbaiRam Rahman, Photographer, New DelhiRakesh Shukla, Advocate, Supreme Court, DelhiDr. Raj Kumar Mazinder, Asst. Professor, Dept. of Visual Arts, Assam UniversityRitambhara, Journalist, New DelhiRahul Kamerkar, Advocate, MumbaiRadhika Singha, Professor, New DelhiRana Behal, Academic, DelhiRasna Bhushan, Art Critic, HyderabadRadhika Wader, Artist, VadodaraRajiv Dhimri, General Secretary, AICCTUSaba Dewan, Filmmaker, GurgaonShakuntala Kulkarni, Artist, MumbaiShilpa Gupta, Artist, MumbaiSurekha, Artist, BangaloreSandhya Srinivasan, Journalist, MumbaiSheela Gowda, Artist, BangaloreT V Santhosh, Artist, MumbaiSuresh Rajamani, Sound Recordist, MumbaiSankalp Meshram, Filmmaker & Editor, Mumbai (National Award-winner)Sameer Khedekar, IT, MumbaiShweta Wagh, Asst. Professor, Architect, MumbaiShalini Sawhney, Art Promoter, MumbaiSanjana Shelat, Artist, MumbaiShashi Mehta, Designer of Truth, MumbaiSudipta Ghosh, Service, BangaloreShuchi Kapoor, Photojournalist, ChennaiShireen Gandhy, Gallerist, MumbaiSudharak Olwe, Social documentary Photographer (Padma Shri)Sanjeev Khandekar, Artist, Poet & Writer, MumbaiSujay Saple, Performance Maker, MumbaiSachin Kamani, Theatre Manager, MumbaiSunil Shanbag, Theatre, MumbaiSameera Iyengar, Theatre, MumbaiSimantini Dhuru, Film-Maker & Educationist, MumbaiSajal Sarkar, Visual Artist, New JerseyS N Sujith, Artist, MumbaiSonia Gill, ActivistSuman Samajpati, Artist, KolkataSourav Roy Chowdhury, Artist, KolkataSherna Dastur, Graphic Designer, New DelhiSopan Muller, Filmmaker, MumbaiSukirat Anand, Punjabi Writer and Journalist, JalandharSushma Veerapa, Filmmaker, BangaloreSunanda Bhat, Filmmaker, BangaloreShukla Sawant Professor, School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU, New DelhiSatyajit Dave, Historian, MumbaiSarah Kapadia, Advocate, MumbaiSuren Uppal, Advocate, DelhiSumangala Biradar, Advocate, MumbaiSree Goswami, Gallerist, MumbaiSurabhi Sharma, Filmmaker, MumbaiSanjay Singhvi, Senior Advocate & President, Trade Union Centre of India (TUCI)Teju Jhaveri, Graphic Designer, MumbaiTamal Mitra, Artist & Teaching, MumbaiTeesta Setalvad, MumbaiTrideep Pais, Advocate, New DelhiUttam Ghosh, Artist, MumbaiVaishali Narkar, Artist, MumbaiVarna Balakrishnan, Research Fellow, Karwan e Mohabbat, New DelhiVinod Shetty, Lawyer, MumbaiVickram Crishna, Private Citizen, MumbaiVivan Sundaram, Artist, New DelhiVarunika Saraf, Artist, HyderabadVasudha Nagaraj, Advocate, HyderabadVineesh Amin, Artist, BengaluruVeena Gowda, Lawyer, MumbaiVivek Monteiro, Secretary, CITU, MaharashtraN. Vasudevan, President, NTUIVidya Das Arora, Academic, DelhiVikas Rawal, Professor, New DelhiYardena Kurulkar, Artist, MumbaiYunus Khimani, Artist, JaipurYusuf, Artist, BhopalYug Chaudhry, Advocate, MumbaiZoya Hassan, Political Scientist, New DelhiZasha Colah, Curator, MumbaiBar & Bench is available on WhatsApp. For real-time updates on stories, Click here to subscribe to our WhatsApp.