The CBI, on Thursday, raided the houses and offices of two senior advocates, based on an FIR filed on June 13. The FIR was filed against Adv. Anand Grover who is the president of Lawyers Collective, an NGO raising human rights issues in courts of India. It was based on the complaint by the Home Ministry that foreign aid was received by the NGO in violation of laws.
The CBI started its search operations at five locations in Delhi and Mumbai. At around 5 am, the agency reached two of Adv. Indira Jaising’s houses in Nizamuddin, two offices of the NGO lawyers collective and the residence of Adv. Grover in Mumbai. A CBI spokesperson said in a statement that a foreign contribution of about Rs. 32.39 crore was received by the NGO account and a sizeable portion of this contribution was misutilised, thereby violating the provisions of FERA, 2010.
The Supreme Court in May had issued notice to the NGO and its lawyers on a plea alleging the violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, for violating the rules relating to receipt and utilisation of foreign funds. In response to the plea, the lawyers had stated that they were being victimised as Jaising was the lawyer who had taken up the cause of a former Supreme Court employee, leveling sexual harassment allegations against CJI Ranjan Gogoi. The allegations were rejected in an in-house inquiry committee on May 6.
In a press statement the NGO recorded “ It is obvious to us that this is victimisation on account of Ms.Jaising taking up the issue of the procedure adopted in relation to the allegations of sexual harassment of Chief Justice of India by a former employee of the Supreme Court which Ms. Jaising has done so in her capacity as a concerned citizen, a senior member of the bar and a women’s rights advocate”
The opposition MPs in a statement termed the actions of CBI as the “ latest in a long line of coercion and intimidation”, it was nothing but “a brute show of intimidation as well as gross abuse of powers.” It added that the lawyers were well known for their pioneering work in the field of human rights and had fully cooperated with the authorities. The letter was signed by MPs from the Congress, TMC, SP, CPI and CPI(M). The move was also condemned by over 150 citizens who lamented that the raids taking place despite the show of cooperation was shocking.