FCRA violation: SC refuses to stay Bombay HC order granting protection to Indira Jaising, Anand Grover

Indira Jaising and Anand Grover

In a relief to senior lawyers Indira Jaising and Anand Grover, the Supreme Court Thursday refused to stay the Bombay HC order restraining the CBI from taking coercive steps against the duo in an alleged Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act violations case.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi issued a notice to NGO 'Lawyers Collective' (founded by Grover and Jaising) on a PIL seeking expeditious investigation into the alleged violation in receiving foreign grants by the NGO

The case, which also mentions Grover as an accused, pertains to discrepancies in foreign contributions cited by the association in its returns filed with the MHA. In 2016, the MHA had cancelled the FCRA license of the NGO for allegedly using foreign contributions for “political purposes”.

The MHA order states that Jaising, who was the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) of India under the previous UPA government, had violated FCRA norms by receiving foreign funds when she was a government servant. Lawyers Collective, according to MHA, used Rs 13 lakh out of foreign contribution in advocacy with MPs or the media to organise rallies/dharnas, draft legislation meetings in 2009, 2011 and 2014.

The HC had granted the relief to the NGO while hearing a plea seeking quashing of an FIR registered by the CBI against it. Challenging this, the agency said that the HC order effectively “is an order granting anticipatory bail to the accused/Respondents as contemplated under Section 438 CrPC; that too without satisfying the mandatory conditions mentioned in S 438”.

The HC could only have stayed the investigation after coming to a definite finding that the FIR is unsustainable and bad in law, it added.

The HC had passed the interim “order on a completely untenable reason that the FIR is based solely and entirely on the inspection of Report of 2016”, the CBI’s appeal said.