New Delhi: Over 350 activists and civil society members have come together to condemn the ‘victimisation’ of Indira Jaising, Anand Grover and the Lawyers Collective, saying they “stand in solidarity with them today when they are being targeted” and demanding the dismissal of the petition against them.
On May 8, a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi issued a notice in a petition filed by ‘Lawyers Voice’ seeking criminal prosecution of Lawyers Collective for the alleged “mis-utilisation” of foreign funding under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA).
The statement of support has questioned the urgency with which the petition was rushed through “in a manner that many other are not.” The petition, the signatories say:
“.. does not clearly show the locus of the petitioner in filing this petition, it does not show violation of any fundamental right which alone is an acceptable reason to approach the Supreme Court directly, and it provides no documentary evidence. This itself could be ground enough for dismissal of the petition as it is not maintainable under Article 32.”
Yet, the statement notes, the bench issued notices against Lawyers Collective and the two senior lawyers, “despite the fact that the FCRA violation issue filed against them is still pending before Bombay High Court which admitted Lawyer’s Collective petition and granted limited stay.”
The senior lawyers, in response to the SC notice, said they were being victimised on account of Jaising taking up the issue of the procedure involved in connection with the allegation of sexual harassment against CJI Gogoi. The statement of solidarity also takes issue with the ‘victimisation’ of Jaising:
“Being a women’s rights activist, a senior member of the bar well versed with cases of sexual harassment, and a concerned citizen, she had raised points of order regarding the procedure used by the Court without commenting on the merits of the allegations themselves.
The problems with hearing of 20th April and the subsequent process used to handle the alleged complaint have been subsequently critiqued in the numerous statements and opinions voiced by many civil society organisations as well as eminent legal community leaders including sitting judges, retired judges, and learned senior counsels.”
Over the last five years, the statement notes, the government has “targeted” those who have raised their voice against the “anti-people actions” as well as human rights violations of the state.
While the signatories “are proponents of independence of the judiciary,” in the current scenario, “those that have been entrusted these august institutions are seeming to repeatedly violate the faith that we have reposed in them. This needs to be checked before we reach a point of no return.”