Who is Indira Jaising and Why is CBI raiding Lawyers Collective?

Yesterday, Indira Jaising and her husband Anand Grover ́s NGO Lawyers Collective ́s offices were raided by CBI for FCRA (Foreign contribution Regulation Act, 2010). 

I am Gauri news Desk

Yesterday, Indira Jaising and her husband Anand Grover ́s NGO Lawyers Collective ́s offices were raided by CBI for FCRA (Foreign contribution Regulation Act, 2010). 

Who is Indira Jaising?

Indira Jaising, a Padma Shree recipient, known for her legendary work in human rights activism is an outspoken and brave lawyer. In 1986, she became the first woman to be designated a Senior Advocate by the High Court of Bombay. In 2009, Jaising became the first woman to be appointed Additional Solicitor General of India. 

Jaising has fought and won a number of landmark legal battles, particularly those dealing with Christian women’s right to inherit property, the right of the mother as the natural guardian in child custody cases, or having the Supreme Court strike down instant Triple Talaq as unconstitutional.  She also fought for justice and compensation for the victims and survivors of the Bhopal Gas disaster in December 1984 against Union carbide corporation. 

Among the most prominent of the human rights and environmental work done by her include the rights of pavement dwellers during the 1980s Bombay and work on  protection of eco sensitive western Ghats region from mining. 

Lawyers collective has worked on the access to lifesaving cancer medicine Glivec opposing the Novartis patent for Glivec. On 1 April 2013, Novartis’ patent was rejected by the Supreme Court of India. It has also worked on the bill against discrimination of HIV person in employment, healthcare and education.  

Lawyers Collective(LC) has been under Modi government radar since June 2016, when under the orders from Home ministry, the license of LC for six months for alleged violation of FCRA. It was alleged that the foreign funds were being used for rallies, Dharnas with political “hue and colour” . The organisation was also put on the list of 25 NGOs found allegedly taking part in activities detrimental to the country’s interest in 2016. The complainant in the foreign-funding case is the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

 Indira has clarified all the charges in 2016 itself but in May 2019, another legal NGO called Lawyer ́s Voice, a BJP-backed NGO ,submitted a PIL in the Supreme Court alleging that Lawyers Collective has violated FCRA. Lawyers Voice has sought criminal prosecution of those running Lawyers Collective for alleged misutilisation of foreign funds for “activities against the nation”. Lawyers Voice convener Neeraj is the all india co-convener legal cell BJP.

 Let’s take a look at these activities “activities against the nation”.

 Even at a cursory glance the charges seem flimsy. According to the home ministry, Lawyers Collective illegally used Rs 13 lakh out of foreign contribution in advocacy with MPs or the media to organise rallies/dharnas for draft legislation meetings in 2009, 2011 and 2014. Any bill goes through several drafts and meetings with concerned parties. The draft legislation meetings, rallies were for the HIV bill that the NGO was working on. The travels with the foreign contribution that Anand Grover is accused of were for the Novartis case. How do any of these things anti national?

 Indira Jaising is accused of accepting foreign funds while being a government servant. She had clarified it in 2016 itself that the lawyers collective received grants. She did not work for LC while being the additional solicitor general. The remuneration received during this period had government permission. 

Indira Jaising has denied the charges and accused the Union government of using the FCRA as a tool for curbing dissent.

Around  200 academics, activists, artists and others have signed a statement condemning the CBI ́s raids on the homes and offices of advocates Indira Jaising and Anand Grover.

The Opposition MPs in Rajya Sabha also wrote to PM Narendra Modi, condemning the raids on senior advocates.

In their statement, the civil society members have said that the raids are “the latest in a long line of coercion and intimidation of Ms Jaising and Mr Grover” and “nothing short of a brute show of intimidation as well as gross abuse of power”. Signatories include economists Amiya Kumar Bagchi and Jayati Ghosh, author Githa Hariharan, journalists Nitin Sethi and Pamela Philipose, and artists Vivan Sundaram and Parthiv Shah are among the signatories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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