The Lawyers Collective (“LC”) and its Trustees including founding members –
Anand Grover and Indira Jaising express shock and outrage at the action of the
CBI in registering an FIR against them. The FIR is solely based on proceedings
under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010, (“FCRA”) in which orders
for suspension and cancellation of LC’s registration to receive foreign funding
were passed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (“MHA”) in 2016, which LC has
challenged by way of appeal before the Bombay High Court. The Appeal is
pending.


Even at that time, LC had pointed out that the FCRA proceedings were taken
against it because its office bearers had taken up sensitive cases against the
leading figures of the BJP and the Government of India, including Mr. Amit Shah,
the present Home Minister, in the Sorabbudin case, amongst others.
Moreover the LC pointed out that there were no basis in the allegation. For
example, apart from the fact that Ms. Jaising remuneration was permissible
under the FCRA, it was being paid by the LC was before she became the ASG and
continued during and after her tenure in that capacity. Moreover she taken the
permission of the Law Minister to continue to receive the remuneration under
the Law Officers (Terms and Conditions) Rules, which has been admitted by the
MHA. The allegation of the MHA was premised on the assumption that as the
ASG Ms. Jaising was a government servant, which she was not. Thus this can
hardly be the basis of alleged offences under the PC ACT. Similarly, expenses
reimbursed to Mr. Anand Grover were permissible under the FCRA and
regulations under it. All such submissions were simply ignored by the MHA. That
is why an appeal was filed in the Bombay High Court which passed interim
orders noting that the submissions made by the MHA were vague.


For nearly two and half years, the CBI, functioning under an NDA regime did not
think it fit to register any criminal cases against the Lawyers Collective and/or its
office bearers, since there was no criminality involved. There has been no
change in circumstances or material on record since 2016 and hence the
question arises what has changed between 2016 and 2019. There is no material
to show that any of the provisions invoked under the under the IPC, PC Act have
any basis.


The FIR has been registered after the petition was filed by Lawyers Voice in the
Supreme Court. The Lawyers Voice comprises lawyers from the BJP and its main
protagonist is Mr. Neeraj is the head of the Legal Cell of the BJP in Delhi. The
organization clams it has no income and no PAN card, a mandatory requirement
for filing a PIL. When the Petition was filed the LC pointed out in a press
statement that the petition did not have the basic averments of a writ petition
under Article 32 of the Constitution, and therefore was not maintainable.

We have expressed our surprise that notice on the Petition was issued at all in the
said Petition.
In the immediate past, the office bearers of the LC have represented the
persons detained in the Bhima Koregaon case, the Police Commissioner of West
Bengal, Rajiv Kumar and while not commenting on the merits of the case, have
been vocal on the subversion of due process of law in the Courts in the matter of
the alleged sexual harassment by a former employees of the Supreme Court of
India.


The LC has reason to believe that its officer bearers are personally being
targeted for speaking up in defence of human rights, secularism and
independence of the judiciary in all fora more particularly in their capacity as
Senior lawyers in court. The LC sees this as a blatant attack of the right to
representation of all persons, particularly the marginalised and those who
dissent in their views form the ruling party. It is also an attack in the right to
free speech and expression and an attack on the legal profession as such. The
right to legal representation is a guaranteed fundamental right under the
Constitution of Indian and is part of the jurisprudence of every civilised country
of the world.


The Lawyers Collective believes that the FIR has no basis in fact and law. It is to
target the Lawyers Collective and its office bearers to silence them as they have
taken up sensitive cases in the past, and continue to take then up. he Lawyers
Collective is seeking competent advise and will defend themselves in
accordance with law in every forum.