CV News/ Thursday, July 11, 2019

A civil society- statement, “strongly” condemning the CBI raids on July 11 on the office and residence premises of senior advocates Anand Grover and Indira Jaising of the Lawyers’ Collective in Delhi and Mumbai, has said that at a time when the matter is “under consideration by the High Court” such acts are “a blatant misuse of its agencies.” 


Calling the raids and earlier CBI chargesheet a month ago, on June 13, as an effort by Government of India “to target critical human rights work undertaken by the Lawyers Collective and its representatives, often involving sensitive cases against Indian ministers and senior officials of the ruling political party”, the statement says, “The crackdown is a gross violation of India’s national as well as international commitment to human rights and social justice.” 


It reads, “The reprisal against Lawyers Collective began in 2016 by suspending their Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) license, which was further challenged in the High Court of Bombay. Lawyers Collective’s challenge to the FCRA cancellation and non-renewal are currently pending before the High Court.” 


Signed, among others, by Haq: Centre for Child Rights, Vrinda Grover, Teesta Seetalvad and Valay Singh, the statement says, Jaising has been a member of the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) between 2009 and 2012 and a recipient of padmashree, while Grover has held the mandate of UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health between 2008 and 2014. 


“It is extremely shocking and sad to see the Government of India use the state machinery and its various tools against people and organisations whose contribution to upholding the constitutional values and the rule of law is well-acknowledged and recognized”, the statement asserts. 


It demands that criminal charges against the Lawyers Collective be immediately withdrawn pending the decision of the High Court of Bombay; misuse of the country’s laws and the state machinery against human rights defenders be ceased; and all acts of harassment against Anand Grover, Indira Jaising and other officer bearers of the Lawyers Collective as well as against all human rights defenders in India be put to an end.