Months after suspending the FCRA registration of Lawyers Collective – an NGO run by renowned lawyer Indira Jaising, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has cancelled its FCRA registration. The organization has been barred from receiving foreign funds.
In its November 27 order, the ministry had alleged that there were differences in foreign contributions cited by the association in its returns filed with the MHA. The order also specified that Jaising – former Additional Solicitor General (ASG) of India under the earlier UPA government, had violated Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) norms by accepting foreign funds when she was a government servant.
In June this year, the ministry had suspended Lawyers Collective’s (LC) FCRA account for six months. It had also issued a notice questioning why the NGO’s account should not be cancelled.
As per a report in Indian Express, Jaisingh said, “Lawyers Collective has received (an) order dated November 27 cancelling its registration. Strangely enough, the order is passed on a Sunday, when government offices are closed. The order is regards LC’s replies in fact and in law.”
“…certain new allegations have surfaced such as ‘diversion’ of foreign contribution and utilisation for ‘personal gain’, which are not borne out by the facts or the records (and) are absolutely false and defamatory. We are exploring all legal options to challenge the cancellation order, including its defamatory contents, and will take necessary action in an appropriate time,” added Jaising.
As per a senior government official, LC has also been listed among 25 NGOs that was found allegedly taking part in activities unfavorable to the nation’s interest.
While answering to this, Jaisingh said, “We call upon the government to make the intelligence reports (based on which LC was put under the list of 25 NGOs) public so that we have an opportunity to challenge the reports against us, an elementary tool of natural justice.”
Jaising served as ASG between July 2009 and May 2014. She had represented social activist Teesta Setalvad in an FCRA violation case against Setalvad’s Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace. Apart from that, she had also represented former Gujarat IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in his claims to have a Supreme Court-monitored SIT probe into FIRs filed by Gujarat Police against him.
Notably, it was Jaising’s husband Anand Grover, a senior Supreme Court lawyer and part of LC, who appealed the Supreme Court on behalf of 1993 Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memon, just hours before he was to be hanged.
The MHA alleged in its notice that the NGO has “indulged in lobbying with Members of Parliament and thereby influencing the political processes and parliamentary institutions.” This, according to the Home Ministry, is in violation of FCRA norms.
As per the notice, LC used ₹13 lakh out of foreign funding in 2009, 2011 and 2014 in support with MPs or the media to organise rallies/dharnas and draft legislation meetings.