Skip to main content

FIR against Lawyers’ Collective a ‘witch-hunt’ of outspoken human rights defenders

Counterview Desk
In a statement, Ravi Kiran Jain* and Dr V Suresh** of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) have said the CBI’s FIR against the Lawyers’ Collective and senior advocate Anand Grover is an undisguised attempt to silence not just the top human rights organization but is also meant to “serve as a lesson to all others who dare to challenge the Central Government.”
Calling the FIR “motivated, vengeful and vituperative act”, PUCL said the Lawyers’ Collective, which has for 38 years of its existence has taken up cases related with domestic violence, human rights, labour and womens’ rights, adding, among the important ones are the “Naz case on rights of the LGBTQ community, the Novartis case, the Sabarimala case, the triple talaaq case and the Sohrabuddin case, in which current Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah was involved.”
Demanding immediate withdrawal of the FIR, PUCL said, “The case lodged against the organization smacks of vendetta for its exceptional work on securing rights for the marginalized. It is ill-conceived, vindictive, politically motivated and designed to have a chilling effect on all those who raise a voice of dissent.”

Text of the statement:

People’s Union for Civil Liberties is shocked at the lodging of an FIR against the Lawyers Collective, its President and senior lawyer, Anand Grover. and other office bearers by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). We condemn this vindictive and utterly unjustified act against this well-known human rights and legal aid organization with a long history of fighting for the rights of ordinary people.
PUCL deplores this undisguised attempt to intimidate and silence Grover, as well as legal luminary and co-founder of Lawyers Collective, Indira Jaising, and office bearers of the organization.
The lodging of the FIR by the CBI is nothing short of a brazen abuse of the process of law. The FIR follows an investigation into allegations of violation of provisions of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010, launched in 2016. Then, orders for the suspension and cancellation of LC’s registration to receive foreign funding were passed by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Lawyers Collective has refuted all the charges against it.
Besides, the organization had challenged the cancellation of its FCRA registration in an appeal before the Bombay High Court, which is pending. The complaint registered against the Lawyers Collective, and its key functionaries, Ms. Indira Jaising and Anand Grover, constitutes a motivated, vengeful and vituperative act meant to silence not just the Lawyers Collective but also serve as a lesson to all others who dare to challenge the Central Government.
An extremely disturbing aspect of the case against Lawyers’ Collective is the manner in which it follows so closely on the heels of an extremely dubious PIL filed in the Supreme Court of India by `Lawyers Voice’, a self-styled organization headed by Neeraj, said to be a member of the legal cell of the ruling BJP. Jaising has stood in defence of human rights defenders and was vocal on the procedural irregularities in the recent sexual harassment case in the Supreme Court.
On May 8 this year, amidst vociferous protests of prominent lawyers and activists over the failure of due process in the sexual harassment charge against the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, the latter heard and issued notice on the PIL, which sought an SIT probe into the ‘inaction’ of the Central government against the lawyers and their organization.
Seen against this backdrop, the sudden registration of FIR by the CBI strongly indicates a witch-hunt against two of the most outspoken and important human rights defenders in India. Indeed, a major aspect of the case made out against the organization was that its work violated various guidelines of the FCRA regulations including in lobbying work for passage of crucial rights protection legislations!
It’s important to point out that the Lawyers’ Collective and its team have taken up important cases throughout the 38 years of their existence. Apart from a range of cases relating to domestic violence, human rights, labour and womens’ rights, the Lawyers’ Collective has taken up the important Naz case on rights of the LGBTQ community, the Novartis case, the Sabarimala case, the triple talaaq case and the Sohrabuddin case, in which current Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah was involved.
Grover has held an important position as the UN Special Rapporteur on right to health from August 2008 to July 2014. He is currently an acting member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and is a member of the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights while Jaising was part of the team of lawyers for the accused in the ongoing Bhima Koregaon case as well as the case against Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar, where she successfully fought the plea of the CBI to seek his custodial interrogation.
Clearly, the current dispensation finds such voices of conscience, as the Lawyers’ Collective and its office-bearers have been, as uncomfortable and inconvenient. The case lodged against the organization smacks of vendetta for its exceptional work on securing rights for the marginalized. It is ill-conceived, vindictive, politically motivated and designed to have a chilling effect on all those who raise a voice of dissent.
PUCL demands that the state desist from these continuous attempts to browbeat the senior lawyers, Indira Jaising and Anand Grover, by embroiling them in multiple legal cases and procedures and misusing its powers to order the arrest and detention of all dissenters. PUCL demands that this witch-hunt against lawyers, journalists and human rights defenders cease forthwith.
PUCL demands that the case against the Lawyers Collective be dropped forthwith.
---
*National President, **National General Secretary, PUCL

Comments

TRENDING

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Visually challenged lady seeks appointment with Gujarat CM, is 'unofficially' detained

By Pankti Jog*
It was a usual noon of November 10. I got a phone call on our Right to Information (RTI) helpline No 9924085000 from Ranjanben of Khambhat, narrating her “disgraceful” experience after she had requested for an appointment with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani. She wanted to meet Rupani, on tour of the Khambhat area in Central Gujarat as part of his Janvikas Jumbesh (Campaign for Development).

Violent 'Ajodhya' campaign in 1840s after British captured Kabul, destroyed Jama Masjid

Counterview Desk  Irfan Ahmad, professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany, and author of “Islamism and Democracy in India” (Princeton University Press, 2009), short-listed for the 2011 International Convention of Asian Scholars Book Prize for the best study in Social Sciences, in his "initial thoughts" on the Supreme Court judgment on the Babri-Jam Janmaboomi dispute has said, while order was “lawful”, it was also “awful.”

There may have been Buddhist stupa at Babri site during Gupta period: Archeologist

By Rajiv Shah
A top-notch archeologist, Prof Supriya Varma, who served as an observer during the excavation of the Babri Masjid site in early 2000s along with another archeologist, Jaya Menon, has controversially stated that not only was there "no temple under the Babri Masjid”, if one goes “beyond” the 12th century to 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, “there seems to be a Buddhist stupa.”

VHP doesn't represent all Hindus, Sunni Waqf Board all Muslims: NAPM on SC ruling

Counterview Desk
India's top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), even as describing the Supreme Court's Ayodhya judgement unjust, has said, it is an "assault on the secular fabric of the Constitution". In a statement signed by top social workers and activists, NAPM said, "The judgement conveys an impression to Muslims that, despite being equal citizens of the country, their rights are not equal before the law."

Holy dip in Sabarmati? Ahmedabad industrial units discharge wastewater despite notice

By Our Representative
In a sharp admission, the Gujarat government has said that most of the industrial units of Ahmedabad, as also the city's residential houses, discharge waste water in Sabarmati, polluting the river. Notably, the river’s 11 kilometre stretch in Ahmedabad, where the riverfront has been beautified, is sought to be projected as a model for the country as a whole.