Attempt to ‘silence’ Lawyers’ Collective?

New Delhi: Social organisations and a group of individuals have condemned the suspension of FCRA licence of ‘Lawyers Collective’, the NGO run by noted lawyers Indira Jaising and Anand Grover, and termed the Home Ministry’s move as “malafide and motivated” and “blatant violation” of law.

 In a statement, the organisations and individuals said there has been a “systematic campaign and abuse of the legal process” by the central government to allegedly malign Jaising and Grover as well as ‘Lawyers Collective’ over the past six months.

 “The suspension of ‘Lawyers Collective’s FCRA registration is nothing but an escalation of the government’s campaign to crush dissent and criminalise any person or organisation that questions the violation of fundamental rights and human rights by the state and its agencies,” they said in the statement.

They said the alleged motivated campaign and actions against ‘Lawyers Collective’ “fit neatly into the present government’s concerted campaign” against marginalised and oppressed sections of society and any person, whether student, activist, academic or individual who questions the policies and actions of the government.

“Senior advocates Indira Jaising and Anand Grover have exceptional profile of public service, probity and personal and professional integrity as lawyers and as human rights activists. Their work has received global recognition,” the statement said.

The licence of ‘Lawyers Collective’ was suspended on Wednesday by the government for six months for alleged violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act by using the funds for rallies, dharna with political “hue and colour”, a charge denied by the Association which termed it as an act of “vindictiveness”.

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The signatories to the statement include office bearers of Amnesty International India, Indian Social Action Forum , SAHELI Women’s Resource Center, Greenpeace India social activists Harsh Mandar and Utvashi Butalia, Kavita Krishnan of All India Progressive Women’s Association, Subhash Mohapatra of Global Human Rights, Krithik Basu of University of Hyderabad and Kavita Srivastava of People Union for Civil Liberties.