India: FCRA violation case’: SC seeks response from advocates Indira Jaising, Anand Grover
June 4, 2019, 4:49 am

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice on a petition seeking direction to the Centre to register an FIR against senior advocates Indira Jaising, Anand Grover and the NGO Lawyers Collective for alleged violation of rules related to receipt and use of foreign funds.

A bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta issued the notice on a plea by ‘Legal Voice’, a Delhi-based “voluntary organisation of lawyers”, which also sought a court-monitored probe into the matter by a special investigation team. The petition referred to the two government orders dated May 31, 2016 by which the NGO’s registration under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) was suspended and November 27, 2016 order by which the registration was cancelled.

It said that “conjoint reading” of the facts in the two orders makes it “evident that apart from violating the provision of FCRA 2010, the acts of commission and omission as stated in theÂ…orders also constituted separate and distinct offence”.

Hence, it submitted, “it was incumbent on the Respondent No. 1 (Union of India) to report and register the same as to set the criminal law machinery in motion to reach to the bottom of the truth.”

The petition, filed through advocate Surender Kumar Gupta, stated that Legal Voice was constrained to approach the court as the Centre had not investigated the alleged offences.

The plea referred to alleged receipt of funds during the period when Jaising was Additional Solicitor General of India and said this added to the gravity of the matter.

According to the petition, it is “clear” from the orders that in violation of FCRA respondents no. 2 and 3 (Jaising and Grover) acted to influence the “democratic process of the country by unauthorisedly lobbying with Members of Parliament and (the) media for passing of certain legislation and to influence policy decisions”.

The petition stated that it is “clear from the (May 2016) order that Respondent, 2 (Jaising), while functioning as Additional Solicitor General for Union of India from July 2009 to May 2014, received an admitted remuneration of Rs 96.60 lakh.”

The petitioner contended that “it is impermissible in law for a law officer of the country to remain on rolls of (a) private entity being paid out of foreign contribution for undisclosed purposeÂ…”

UPDATE: On 26 June 2019, criminal charges were filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) relying on an investigation report of January 2016 of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The MHA report has been challenged by Lawyers Collective in January 2017 and the case is under consideration by the High Court of Bombay.

UPDATE: On 11 July 2019, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) carried out searches at homes and offices of Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising and her husband Anand Grover in connection with an alleged violation of foreign funding rules for their NGO Lawyers Collective.