The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a criminal case against NGO Lawyers Collective (LC), its president Anand Grover and unknown office bearers for alleged violations of Foreign Contributions Registration Act (FCRA).
The FIR was filed by CBI on the basis of a complaint from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which has alleged several discrepancies in the utilisation of foreign aid received by the NGO. According to the complaint, the NGO, which was registered for undertaking social activities, had received Rs 32.39 crore from 2006-2007 to 2014-2015.
"The violation of the FCRA was noticed in 2010," the MHA complaint said. The complaint also said that the response from LC after a site inspection at their office between January 19-23, 2016, was not satisfactory. Following this, the MHA had cancelled their registration under the FCRA and asked the NGO to stop accepting funding from abroad.
In 2017, the NGO's license was suspended. In May his year, LC was slapped with a Supreme Court notice for the alleged violation.
Indira Jaising's remuneration
The complaint stated that Grover used foreign contribution for personal benefits and spent it outside India which is a violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). It also said that Indira Jaising had received Rs 96.6 lakh remuneration from foreign contributions made to the NGO during her term as Additional Solicitor General (2009-14).
It also further stated that her foreign travels as ASG were funded by Lawyers Collective, using such contributions, without prior approval of the ministry.
The complaint also claimed that the NGO organised a free-trade agreement rally and held "paid dharnas" on the HIV/AIDS Bill outside the Law Ministry. It said Rs 13.03 lakh was found to have been spent on air travel, boarding and lodging, local travel of of trustees and various contractual employees for drafting the HIV AIDS Bill in violation of rules.
In response to the complaint, the organisation and its Trustees expressed shock and outrage in a statement on Tuesday. They alleged that the FIR had no basis in fact and in law.
"It has been filed to target the organisation and its office bearers to silence them for the cases and issues that they have taken up in the past and continue to take up since 2016. LC is seeking competent advice and will defend themselves in accordance with law in every forum," the statement said.
The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 regulates the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations or companies.