The CBI has registered a case against Mr Grover for alleged FCRA violations in receiving foreign aid.
New Delhi: Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday carried out searches at the residence of senior Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising and some offices of the Lawyers’ Collective, an NGO run by the lawyer and her husband Anand Grover.
Searches were conducted at two places in Delhi and one in Mumbai since early morning. In Delhi, the CBI conducted searches at the Nizamuddin residence and office of Ms Jaising as well as the NGO’s office in Jangpura. Another office was also searched in Mumbai.
The CBI has registered a case against Mr Grover for alleged FCRA violations in receiving foreign aid. The CBI had filed an FIR against Mr Grover and Lawyers’ Collective following a complaint from the home ministry that alleged several irregularities in the utilisation of foreign funds received by the organisation. While Ms Jaising is not named in the FIR, her role has been questioned in the complaint forwarded by the home ministry to the investigating agency. Ms Jaising said that she and her husband were being targeting for taking up cases of human rights violations.
The searches evoked sharp reactions fro Opposition parties. CPI)M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury accused the government of ``targeting’’ Ms Jaising and Mr Grover. ``While the law must take its course, brazen targeting of well known and respected senior advocates by the government via its agencies raises serious questions about its intentions,” Mr Yechury said in a tweet.
The Trinamool Congress described the raids as “vendetta” and alleged that the government was harassing all the “voices of opposition”.
“The CBI raid at the residence of Indira Jaising and Anand Grover is yet another example of the many instances of vendetta. This govt is harassing citizens and all voices of opposition. This is a #SuperEmergency,” TMC national spokesperson Derek O’ Brien tweeted.
The CBI has booked Mr Grover, who is president of Lawyers’ Collective, and unidentified office-bearers of the organisation, besides unidentified officials.
According to the home ministry complaint, which is now part of the FIR lodged by the CBI, Lawyers’ Collective had received foreign donations worth over Rs 32.39 crore between the year 2006-07 and 2014-15, wherein irregularities were committed that amounted to violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).
The ministry further claimed that as per available information and scrutiny of records of the NGO, prima facie violations of various provisions of the FCRA were noticed. It further added that an on-site inspection of books of accounts and records of the NGO was conducted from 19 to 23 January, 2016.
Ms Jaising, Mr Grover and Lawyers’ Collective had earlier issued a press statement, denying “any allegation of misutilisation of any funds”. The statement further added, “It is obvious to us that this is victimisation on account of Ms Jaising taking up the issue of the procedure adopted in relation to allegations of sexual harassment against the Chief Justice of India by a former employee of the Supreme Court, which Ms Jaising has done so in her capacity as a concerned citizen, a senior member of the bar and a women’s rights advocate, without commenting on merits of the allegations.”
The CBI has alleged that Ms Jaising received Rs 96.60 lakh from Lawyers’ Collective without government permission between 2009-14 — during this period she was an additional solicitor general under the UPA regime. The agency also claimed that expenses for Ms Jaising’s trips abroad were met from the NGO’s funds without approval of the home ministry.
The home ministry’s complaint mentioned a charity dinner organised by Lawyers’ Collective in New York in 2013. It was attended by Anand Grover among others.
Ms Jaising was the first woman additional solicitor general of India in 2009. Recently she was in the news for challenging the “clean chit” issued to the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, over a sexual harassment case.
She and her husband took to Twitter on Thursday to protest their victimisation even as court staff came out in large numbers in support of the CJI, dubbing the harassment charges against him as an attack on the institution.
It may be recalled that another NGO, Lawyers Voice, had moved the Supreme Court earlier this year accusing Lawyers’ Collective of violating FCRA. Lawyers Voice has sought criminal prosecution of those running Lawyers’ Collective for alleged misutilisation of foreign funds for “activities against the nation”.
The Supreme Court issued a notice to Lawyers’ Collective seeking its response to the charge made against it. Indira Jaising and Anand Grover in their response have said Lawyers Voice is a BJP-backed NGO.