June 4, 2020

Jaising-Grover gets breather as SC defers FCRA case

New Delhi: Senior Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising whose residence was searched by CBI officials in Delhi and Mumbai for alleged violation of FCRA norms, in New Delhi on July 11, 2019. The CBI claimed to have recovered incriminating documents. The action came almost a month after the CBI registered a case against Mumbai-based NGO Lawyers Collective and its President Anand Grover for alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulations) Act (FCRA), criminal conspiracy and criminal breach of trust. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday deferred the hearing on CBI’s appeal against protection from arrest for senior advocate Indira Jaising and her husband Anand Grover in alleged Foreign Contribution Act (FCRA) violation case.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the matter will come up for hearing on November 14.

The apex court has tagged the Central Bureau of Investigation’s appeal with a writ petition, which sought expeditious probe against the lawyers’ NGO, Lawyers Collective.

The CBI had moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court stating that the interim protection from coercive steps is equivalent to anticipatory bail, which is unsustainable and bad in law.

The high court had restrained the CBI from taking any coercive steps against the senior lawyers. On Friday, a battery of senior lawyers were present in the court for the hearing.

Grover and Jaisingh are founding members of the NGO — Lawyers Collective.

The CBI, which registered a case against Grover and the NGO over alleged FCRA violation, contended that the high court neither rendered any finding as to how the FIR registered against the accused is “unsustainable and bad in law”.

“Nor the high court has rendered any finding as to how the continuance of the investigation against the accused would be contrary to law,” said the CBI in its plea.

According to the agency, the high court on the two points — the FIR against the accused and continuity in the investigations — did not render any findings, instead it passed the interim order on a completely untenable reason that the FIR is based on the inspection of the report of 2016 and there is no fresh material. As a result, the order of no coercive step was warranted.

The CBI contended in its plea “when the allegations in the FIR otherwise manifested commissioning of a cognizable offence, the said ground of no new fresh material was completely impertinent and extraneous for exercise of powers under Section 482 CrPC.”

The agency cited the 2015 letter issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to the accused stating its FCRA Wing was mandated to administer FCRA to bring transparency and accountability while ensuring national security.

In 2016, MHA conducted inspection of books of accounts and records, which revealed the alleged accused, had indulged in prima facie violation of FCRA provisions.

In May 2016, the FCRA of the NGO was suspended. A FIR was lodged in June 2019, following a complaint by the MHA. Although, the FIR did not name Jaising as an accused, but the MHA complaint mentioned her name and made specific allegations against her.

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