New Delhi: Senior lawyers Indira Jaising and Anand Grover on Wednesday claimed victimisation after the Supreme Court issued notice to them and their NGO, Lawyers Collective, on a plea seeking investigation and filing of a case against it for allegedly violating rules for receipt and utilization of foreign funds.
In a press statement, the advocates said: "We are deeply disturbed by the turn of events."
Citing the allegation of sexual harassment against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Jaising said that it is victimization, as she decided to pursue the cause of the former apex court employee, in her capacity as a "citizen, a senior member of the Bar and a women's right advocate, without commenting on the merits of the allegations".
The former court staffer had levelled allegations of sexual harassment against CJI Gogoi. On May 6, the in-house inquiry Committee of the top court rejected these allegations.
The PIL by NGO Lawyer's Voice alleged that Jaisingh, Grover and the Lawyers Collective violated the provisions of the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act, the Indian Penal Code, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act and that the funds collected were misutilized for "activities against the nation".
It also cited the Centre's order suspending the license of Lawyers Collective in 2016 and permanently cancelling it for alleged violation of the FCRA.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Gogoi has asked Jaising and Grover, founders of Lawyers Collective, to respond to this plea.
The court also issued notice to the Union Home Ministry, seeking its response.
The PIL cites Jaising allegedly violated the Advocates Act by accepting funds from a foreign entity and then utilized the money for the NGO to travel abroad during her tenure as a law officer.
Citing the November 27, 2016, order cancelling the FCRA registration of the NGO after it was found that it broke the rules, the petition also seeks direction to the Centre to bring on record all the evidence that supported the passing of the order.
The petition also alleged despite being grave charges against the lawyers and the Lawyers Collective, the Centre did not carry out investigations.
Rejecting the charges, the Lawyers Collective, in its statement, noted that it has had no foreign funding since 2016, when its FCRA registration was suspended and subsequently cancelled by the Ministry of Home Affairs on "false and illegal grounds".
It has "taken up appropriate legal proceedings against the cancellation in accordance with the law". "In any event, we strongly dispute any allegation of mis-utilisation of any funds," it said.