CBI seeks permission to arrest lawyers Anand Grover and Indira Jaising
Central Bureau of Investigation is learnt to have filed a Special Leave Petition before SC for permission to arrest and interrogate eminent civil rights lawyers Anand Grover and Indira Jaising
The CBI has filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court against the protection order that Ms. Jaising and Mr. Grover had received from the Bombay High Court, against the FIR dated 13th June, 2019 registered by the CBI economic offences branch, Mumbai. The SLP, however, has not been listed yet in the Supreme Court.
The CBI and the ED have been insisting on custodial interrogation in all high profile cases involving critics of the Government, even when charges are of economic nature and evidence is perforce documentary in nature. CBI has already carried out searches in the offices and homes of the two eminent lawyers in the case of FCRA violation levelled against the NGO Lawyers Collective.
In May, 2016, MHA suspended the FCRA registration of LC and denied its renewal. On 27 November, 2016, MHA directed cancellation of LC’s FCRA registration under Section 14(1)(b), (c) and (d) of FCRA, 2010. On 11 July, 2019, surprise raids were conducted at the residence of Indira Jaising and Anand Grover and the offices of Lawyers Collective in Mumbai and Delhi.
On 24 July, 2019, Anand Grover, Indira Jaising, and LC filed a petition in the Bombay High Court seeking quashing of the FIR on the grounds that the basis of the FIR, i.e. the offences mentioned in the cancellation report is under challenge in a separate appeal before the HC, and no prima facie offences are made out in the FIR.
On 25 July, 2019, the Bombay High Court vide a bench of Justices Ranjith More and Bharathi Dangre was pleased to grant interim protection from coercive action to the petitioners till 19-08-2019 and recorded that “since prima facie on the perusal of the FIR we are convinced that it based on the inspection report of 2016,we are inclined to give ad-interim relief to the petitioners.”
On 21 June, 2019, NHRC issued notice to CBI on the basis of complaints received against the intimidation and harassment of the Petitioners by registering the impugned FIR. It stated that,
“the filing of criminal charges against their organization is solely based on a report of the MHA pertaining to the year January, 2016 and there has been no change in circumstances or material on record since 2016 and hence it has no material basis for invoking provisions of IPC and other acts.”
Both Anand Grover and Indira Jaising have appeared in high profile cases involving capital punishment to Yakoob Memon, the mysterious death of CBI judge Loya, the Sohrabuddin and Kauser Bi encounter cases, the Gujarat genocide conspiracy, Sanjeev Bhatt incarceration, as well as raising questions for an independent anti sexual harassment committee for the Chief justice of India.
Lawyers Collective (LC) registered as a society in 1981 with aims and objectives of conducting research, advocacy, and litigation for furthering rule of law and democracy.
On 6 May, 2019, an NGO by the name of Lawyers Voice filed a PIL, W.P.(Crl) 142/2019 in the Supreme Court asking the court to direct filing of an FIR against Indira Jaising, Anand Grover and LC on account of offences under the FCRA. However, the PIL failed to mention a single fundamental right that had been violated pursuant to which the petition was filed.
On 8 May, 2019, the Supreme Court vide bench of the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta issued notice on this petition and further without anyone seeking the interim relief added that, “the pendency of this writ petition will not come in the way of the investigating agencies of the Government of India to act in accordance with law.”