January 17, 2017
We, the undersigned organizations, express solidarity with the Lawyers Collective, and strongly condemn the permanent cancellation of the license of the Lawyers’ Collective by means of the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA, 2010) by the Ministry of Home Affairs of India. We call for the immediate withdrawal of the cancellation order.
The Lawyers’ Collective is a non-governmental organization run by Indira Jaising, a noted senior lawyer from India, who is known for advancing women’s rights, and the rights of people living with HIV and other marginalized groups. In June 2016, the Government of India suspended the license of the Lawyers’ Collective for a period of six months. The Lawyers’ Collective was suspended for allegedly using funds to organize rallies and dharnas (peaceful demonstrations) with a political ‘hue and color’. The organization has repeatedly denied the charges and has termed them an act of ‘vindictiveness’.
On 27 November 2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) cancelled the FCRA registration of the organization permanently, barring the organization from receiving foreign funds for its work and activities. The MHA, in its order, alleges that there were discrepancies in foreign contributions cited by the Lawyers’ Collective in its returns filed with the Ministry. Further, the order states that Jaising violated the FCRA norms by receiving foreign funds between 2006-2007 and 2013-2014, when she was a government servant, that is, when she served as the Additional Solicitor General of India under the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government.