Eminent personalities from diverse fields on Thursday condemned the latest series of CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] raids at the home and offices of senior advocates Indira Jaising and Anand Grover and termed it a “brute show of intimidation as well as gross abuse of power” by the Modi government.
In a public statement issued after the raids, they argued that the raids are in a long line of coercion and intimidation against the senior advocates.
Anuradha Kapur, D N Jha, Githa Hariharan, Irfan Habib, Pamela Philipose were among the signatories to urge the government to immediately put an end to the “acts of intimidation and harassment” against Mr Grover, Ms Jaising and Lawyers Collective.
Here is the full text of the public statement:
We, the undersigned individuals, strongly condemn the raids at the home and offices of senior advocates Ms Indira Jaising and Mr Anand Grover this morning by the CBI. The raids are being carried out in both Delhi and Mumbai. This, the latest in a long line of coercion and intimidation of Ms Jaising and Mr Grover, is nothing short of a brute show of intimidation as well as gross abuse of power. This is especially so since both the advocates, well known for their pioneering work in the field of human rights, and their NGO, ‘Lawyers Collective’, have fully cooperated with the authorities ever since criminal charges were filed against them in alleged FCRA violation cases. The raids that have taken place today despite this show of cooperation are shocking.
The reprisal against Lawyers Collective began in 2016 by suspending their FCRA license, which was then challenged in the High Court of Bombay. Lawyers Collective’s challenge to the FCRA cancellation and non-renewal are currently pending before the High Court. On 13 June 2019, the CBI registered a First Information Report under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) relating to charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating, false statement made in declaration and various sections under the FCRA and Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act 1988.
Lawyers Collective, a human rights organisation based in New Delhi with its registered office in Mumbai, was founded by noted Indian human rights defenders and lawyers Ms Indira Jaising and Mr Anand Grover. Ms Jaising and Mr Grover are senior advocates with an exceptional profile of public service, probity and personal and professional integrity. In 1986, Ms Jaising became the first woman to be designated as a senior advocate by the High Court of Bombay, and in 2009 she became the first woman to be appointed as Additional Solicitor General of India. Ms Jaisingh was a member of the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) between 2009 and 2012. She is a recipient of the Padma Shri awarded in 2005, followed by the Rotary Manav Seva Award for her services to the nation. Mr Grover was UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health between 2008 and 2014. The country’s HIV/AIDS treatment programme has evolved with the serious efforts of the HIV/AIFS Unit of Lawyers Collective, headed by Mr Grover. Ms Jaising and Mr Grover, through Lawyers Collective, have advocated for advancing the rights of the most vulnerable and marginalised sections of Indian society, including children. On several occasions, they have challenged the unconstitutional and anti-people actions and policies of the State through judicial processes.
We, as citizens strongly urge that:
Acts of intimidation and harassment against Mr Anand Grover, Ms Indira Jaising and Lawyers Collective stop immediately
The criminal charges against Lawyers Collective be immediately withdrawn pending the decision of the High Court of Bombay.
Misuse of the country’s laws and the state machinery against human rights defenders come to an end
The National Human Rights Commission of India take cognizance of this matter and take immediate action under the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 (PHRA), including a review of the FCRA under Section 12 (d) of the PHRA.
Amiya Kumar Bagchi
Amitra Sudan Chakrabortty
Amiya Kumar Bagchi
Anand K. Sahay
Anil Karne, Jabalpur
Antara Dev Sen
Avik Kumar Maitra
Chirashree Das Gupta
Indira Arjun Dev
Iqtidar Alam Khan
Jawari Mal Parakh
Jehangir Asgar JAni
K. L. Tuteja
K. M. Shrimali
Kailash Meena, Rajathan
Maaz Bin Bilal
Mary E John
Maya Krishna Rao
Mohammad Mansoor Alam
Mukut Lochan Kalita
Noella de Souza