New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday issued a notice to the central government on a plea seeking criminal action against senior advocates Indira Jaising and Anand Grover for alleged misuse of foreign funding under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, (FCRA).
A bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi heard the petition, filed by the NGO Lawyers Voice two days ago. The NGO said it had filed the petition based on “reliable information”.
The plea sought direction from the Centre on the initiation of criminal proceedings against the two senior lawyers and their NGO, Lawyers Collective.
Reacting to this, Lawyers Collective issued a statement on behalf of Jaising, saying she is being victimised as she has been a vocal opponent of the procedures adopted by the SC to probe into the sexual harassment allegations against CJI Gogoi.
Home ministry had cancelled FCRA licence
By an order dated 27 November 2016, the home ministry had permanently cancelled Jaising’s FCRA licence, preventing Lawyers Collective from receiving any foreign funding. The ministry had alleged some discrepancies in foreign contributions that were cited by Jaising’s NGO in its tax returns.
The order had further said that by receiving foreign funding, Jaising, who was the additional solicitor general under the previous UPA-II regime, had violated FCRA norms.
Plea wants SIT
The petition sought the setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the alleged offences committed by the office-bearers of Lawyers Collective.
The plea also sought direction from the central government on submission of all materials before the apex court, including confidential documents, which it relied on to cancel Jaising’s FCRA licence.
The Lawyers Voice said the Centre has failed to carry out a detailed investigation into the foreign funding of Lawyers Collective. The plea said the Centre restricted its inquiry to the grant and cancellation of the FCRA licences despite “noticing and concluding” that Jaising’s and Grover’s activities “amounted to interference and influencing with the political decision making process, administration of justice and meddling with public perception”.
According to the plea, Jaising “under reported” and “concealed” an amount to the tune of Rs 1.5 crore in her IT returns in the financial year 2009-2010.
Furthermore, the foreign funding received by Jaising’s NGO was transferred to another account as opposed to the one that was permitted to receive the funding, the plea claimed.
Being victimised, says Jaising
The Lawyers Collective said in its statement on behalf of Jaising that the plea was listed Wednesday in contravention to the norms laid down by the apex court registry.
The statement said the plea was filed on 6 May and listed Wednesday, two days later. According to a circular issued by the Supreme Court Registry, all fresh matters verified up until 6 May would be listed in the final cause list on 10 May. A circular issued on 7 May by the registry also reiterated this.
The statement further said that Jaising, who was a vocal opponent of the procedures adopted by the apex court to probe into allegations of sexual harassment against CJI Gogoi, was being victimised.
“Considering that Jaising has been publicly vocal on the issue of due process of law in relation to the conduct of the in-house inquiry, the Chief Justice ought to have recused himself from hearing the matter,” the statement read.
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