In June 2016, the licence of an NGO run by noted lawyer Indira Jaising — Lawyers' Collective —was suspended by the Narendra Modi government for a period of six months for the alleged violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). The NGO was accused of using funds for rallies and dharnas with a political "hue and colour", a charge denied by the association which termed it as an act of "vindictiveness".
Six months later, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has cancelled the NGO's FCRA registration permanently, thereby barring the organisation from receiving foreign funds.
In its order, dated 27 November, the ministry alleged that there were discrepancies in foreign contributions cited by Lawyers' Collective in its returns filed with the MHA, reports The Indian Express. The order also stated that Jaising had violated FCRA norms by receiving foreign funds when she was a government servant.
The following is the response by the Lawyers Collective to the cancellation of its FCRA license:
Lawyers Collective has received an order dated 27 November, 2016 cancelling its registration to receive foreign contribution under Section 14, Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, on 29 November, 2016 at its registered office at Mumbai.
The cancellation order is not only mala fide but also incorrect on facts and bad in law. The allegations are basically reiterate what was said in the suspension order dated 31 May, 2016, with no application of mind. It was issued on a Sunday by the undersecretary to the government of India. It is not known who took the decision to cancel the registration. Other organisation in similar circumstances, particularity Greenpeace, have had their registration renewed, whereas our registration has been cancelled and our renewal declined on the basis of unknown “agency and filed reports” indicating clearly that we have been singled out for political reasons by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
LC reiterates that the current proceedings under FCRA, including the latest cancellation order, are only a continuation of the harassment and persecution of the organisation, especially of its two trustees, Indira Jaising and Anand Grover, senior advocates, perpetrated by the government, over last one year. Both Jaising and Grover have been and are continuing to take up sensitive cases, in their professional capacity, against the powerful leaders of the present ruling establishment. This is an attack on the right to legal representation of persons who need legal services the most and a gross abuse of powers by the government of the day. It is also a clear attack on the right of free speech and association guaranteed by the Constitution of India.
The entire proceedings against LC under FCRA are nothing but an attempt to discredit the long-standing credibility of the organisation and that of its trustees, and a part of the larger clampdown on civil society spaces in India. LC is exploring all legal options to challenge the cancellation order and will take necessary action in an appropriate time.
LC is proud of its work done in the past on advancing women’s rights, access to medicines and rights of people living with HIV and other marginalised groups, with or without foreign contribution and will continue to do so.
Updated Date: Dec 07, 2016 09:36 AM