The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has received a communication from Shri Henri Tiphagne, a human rights activist associated with Human Rights Defenders’ Alert, HRDA-India, expressing grave concern over filing criminal cases by the CBI on 13.06.2019, against human rights organization Lawyers Collective, senior Advocate Anand Grover and its other unnamed functionaries. The FIR was filed by the CBI on 13th June, under various sections of the IPC, Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA) and Prevention of Corruption Act (PC) 1988. The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi had reportedly written to the CBI on 15.05.2019 for further investigation.
The complainant stated that the Lawyers Collective is a group of lawyers with a mission to empower and change the status of marginalized groups through the effective use of law and engagement in human rights advocacy, legal aid and litigation. The complaint also mentions that Anand Grover was the UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Health between August 2008- July 2014 and Ms. Indira Jaising was an Addl. Solicitor General of India between July 2009- May 2014 and a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women between 2009-2012, and that the registration of criminal cases by the CBI against this organization is a step to intimidate and harass them for their human rights work.
The HRDA has requested the Commission to exercise the provisions laid down u/s 12 (b) of the PHR Act, 1993 and act on its long standing request of urgently reviewing FCRA.
Another similar complaint was received by NHRC from Ms. Maja Daruwala, Senior Advisor of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, expressing concern on Ms. Jaisingh that she and her husband are being victimized for the work that they have done in Court of Law in their capacity as lawyers. She also stated that a pattern of intimidation is going on against anyone who challenges Government policies. To substantiate her concerns, Ms. Daruwala referred about the timing of allegations made against
Ms. Jaisingh and her husband. She also stated that Ms. Jaising and Mr. Grover are long standing, reputed lawyers and Human Rights Defenders of high integrity, reputed both at home and abroad.
In a press release, NHRC stated that while matters related to alleged violation of norms of FCRA and suspension of the organization by the Government of India due to alleged violation of norms are outside its purview, but given that the current FIR has been lodged “solely based on a report of the Ministry of Home Affairs 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 the IPC”, the Commission is also empowered under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 to examine the issue to make it non-discriminatory and to avoid arbitrariness.
Given that both Mr. Anand Grover and Ms. Indira Jaising have been actively raising the issues pertaining to alleged violation of human rights across the country and looking into their active role in the civil society, the Commission has forwarded copies of the complaints lodged by Shri Henri Tiphagne and Ms. Maja Daruwala to the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation, New Delhi calling for present status of the investigation in the matter within 4 weeks.