CBI raids lawyers’ residences, Oppn MPs allege ‘coercion’
The searches triggered criticism, with Jaising, several opposition party leaders and the International Commission of Jurists calling the developments an attempt to harass and intimidate.Updated: Jul 11, 2019 23:27 IST
The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday raided the office and residences of senior lawyers Indira Jaising and her husband Anand Grover in Delhi and Mumbai over allegations that their nonprofit violated foreign funding regulations.
The searches triggered criticism, with Jaising, several opposition party leaders and the International Commission of Jurists calling the developments an attempt to harass and intimidate.
The raids, which began early in the morning and were on till late on Thursday, led to the recovery of “several incriminating documents”, according to a CBI official, who asked not to be named. The official did not give any details of what these were.
“I and Anand Grover are being targeted because of the human rights work we did,” said Jaising, who was the additional solicitor general during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, outside her house in South Delhi’s Nizamuddin while officials carried out searches.
The case is specifically against the NGO Lawyers Collective, which is based in Mumbai and run by Grover. The FIR filed on June 13 does not name Jaising.
The case was filed on a complaint by the ministry of home affairs, said the NGO received ₹32.39 crore in foreign aid between 2006-07 and 2014-15 following irregularities that led to the violation of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 (FCRA). The MHA complaint also accused Grover and Lawyers Collective of having misused the money for trips abroad.
The CBI has also alleged that Jaising received ₹96.60 lakh from Lawyers Collective without government permission. It said the ministry had noticed the irregularities in 2010.
A group Opposition MPs in the Rajya Sabha wrote to PM Narendra Modi condemning the raids. “…This, latest in a long line of coercion and intimidation of Ms Jaising and Mr Grover, is nothing short to a brute of intimidation as well as a gross abuse of power,” they said in a letter signed by MPs from Congress, AAP, CPI, SP, TDP, BSP, CPI(M) and the TMC.
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) also issued a statement condemning the developments. “This raid seems designed to harass and intimidate two tireless advocates of Constitutional and international rights in India,” said Sam Zarifi, secretary-general of the ICJ.
“The repeated use of the FCRA to target civil society including Lawyers Collective has had a devastating chilling effect on public comment about the government,” said Zarifi.