The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), on Tuesday,June 18, has registered a criminal case against the Delhi-based NGO, Lawyers’ Collective, for alleged violations of the The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) rules. The FIR has named senior advocate Anand Grover and unidentified office bearers and functionaries of the organisation.
Anand Grover is a trustee and the Director of the Lawyers' Collective and also the husband of noted Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising, who is a trustee and Secretary of the NGO.
After receiving a complaint against the collective from the Union Ministry, a First Information Report (FIR) was filed against the collective under sections of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010. The complaint has alleged several discrepancies in the utilisation of foreign aid received by the group.
According to the complaint of the ministry, the group had received foreign aid worth over Rs. 32.39 crores between 2006-07 and 2014-15, wherein irregularities were committed that amounted to violation of the FCRA Act.
The ministry has claimed that comments were sought from the NGO on the basis of violations reported during inspection, but those were not satisfactory, following which its FCRA registration was suspended in 2016, stopping the organisation from accepting funding from abroad.
Earlier in May, a Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta had issued a notice to Jaising, Grover and their collective, asking for their response, on a plea seeking investigation and lodging of FIR under various provisions of law for allegedly violating rules relating to receipt and utilisation of foreign funds. The PIL was filed by another voluntary organisation named the Lawyers’ Voice.
The activist lawyers had then alleged that they were being “victimized” as Ms Jaising has been publicly vocal on the issue of due process of law with respect to the in-house inquiry committee against CJI Ranjan Gogoi.
The committee was formed in relation to the allegations of sexual harassment against the CJI by a former employee of the Supreme Court.
Established in 1981, the Lawyers’ Collective states on its website that it “is a group of lawyers with a mission to empower and change the status of marginalised groups through the effective use of the law, and engagement in human rights advocacy, legal aid and litigation.”
With inputs from PTI