Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Thursday restrained the Central Bureau of Investigation from taking any coercive action against NGO ‘Lawyers Collective’ (LC) and its founding members, senior lawyers Anand Grover and Indira Jaising.
A bench of justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre granted the interim protection to LC and others till August 19, the next date of hearing.
The two approached the high court on Thursday seeking that the case, registered by the CBI in June, be quashed.
Based on a complaint by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which has alleged several discrepancies in the utilisation of foreign aid received by the NGO, the CBI had filed an FIR last month against their Mumbai-based NGO alleging violations of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).
According to the complaint of the ministry, which is now a part of the FIR, the group had received foreign aid worth over Rs 32.39 crore between 2006-07 and 2014-15, wherein irregularities were committed that amounted to a violation of the FCRA.
Responding to the charges, the NGO had said in a statement that the FIR was solely based on proceedings under the FCRA. The MHA, in 2016, cancelled the organisation’s FCRA license, which is under challenge before the Bombay high court.
“It is obvious to us that this is victimisation on account of Ms Jaising taking up the issue of the procedure adopted in relation to allegations of sexual harassment against the Chief Justice of India by a former employee of the Supreme Court, which Ms Jaising has done so in her capacity as a concerned citizen, a senior member of the bar and a women’s rights advocate, without commenting on merits of the allegations,” the press statement had said.
Senior advocate Aspi Chinoy, their lawyer, denied all charges of FCRA violation and alleged that the MHA’s complaint and the FIR were, on the face of it, “abuse of power”.
(With inputs from PTI)