The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has permanently cancelled the licence of NGO, Lawyers’ Collective, that is run by eminent lawyer Indira Jaising following allegations of violating the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) norms. The organization is now barred from receiving foreign funds – an action termed by the organisation as “preposterous” and an attack on “right to free speech” guaranteed under the Constitution.

For a period of six months, the licence of the NGO was suspended by the Narendra Modi government in June this year for the same allegation. It was issued a notice, seeking reasons as to why the NGO’s account should not be cancelled.

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In its order, dated 27 November, the home ministry alleged that there were discrepancies in foreign contributions cited by Lawyers’ Collective in its returns filed with the MHA, reports The Indian Express.

It is alleged that the NGO received foreign funds between 2006-07 and 2013-14 during Jaising’s reign as the additional solicitor general of India under the previous UPA government. The order said that when she was a government servant, she violated the FCRA norms by doing so.

In an email reply, Jaisingh said, “Lawyers Collective has received (an) order dated November 27 cancelling its registration. Strangely enough, the order is passed on a Sunday, when government offices are closed. The order is regards LC’s replies in fact and in law.”

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Jaising added, “…certain new allegations have surfaced such as ‘diversion’ of foreign contribution and utilisation for ‘personal gain’, which are not borne out by the facts or the records (and) are absolutely false and defamatory. We are exploring all legal options to challenge the cancellation order, including its defamatory contents, and will take necessary action in an appropriate time.”

The statement mentioned that the order was passed on a Sunday when government offices stay closed. The NGO has also been listed amongst 25 NGOs that allegedly take part in harmful activities, official sources said.

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The home ministry had earlier said, “It is really surprising how a senior law officer, such as an ASG can simultaneously and for such a long period be on the rolls of a private entity, being paid (out of foreign contribution) for undisclosed purposes in gross violation of rules applicable to law officers of Union of India.”

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For those of you who don’t know much about Indira Jaising, here are some points:

  • Indira Jaising is the first-ever woman to become a senior advocate in Bombay High Court.
  • She was also the first Indian woman to be elected to the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and then became India’s first woman additional solicitor-general.
  • She is a fierce lawyer and famous for her legal activism in promoting human rights.
  • She is also an active feminist, who is politically inclined towards Left and many a times favoured anti-right wing stance on various issues.

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  • Jaising is the founder secretary of the Lawyers’ Collective, an institution that serves legal funding for the underprivileged sections of Indian society.
  • She is also a founder of a monthly magazine called The Lawyers. The magazine was launched In 1986, which contributes towards social justice and women’s issues in the context of Indian law.

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  • Some of her infamous cases were related to the discrimination against women, including the Muslim Personal Law, rights of pavement dwellers and the homeless and the Bhopal gas tragedy.
  • She has fought against child labour, for the economic rights of women, estranged wives and domestic violence cases.

Feature Image Credit: India Live Today

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