September 20, 2019
After the CBI booked Mumbai-based NGO, Lawyers Collective (LC) and its founding President, noted lawyer Anand Grover for alleged violations of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, and after the central probe agency raided the premises of former Additional Solicitor-General Indira Jaising in connection with the case, the ED has now initiated a separate money-laundering case against the NGO and Grover, on the basis of the CBI’s case.
A senior official in the know said that the ED has registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) – the agency’s equivalent of an FIR – to probe possible instances of money-laundering by LC and its office-bearers after taking cognisance of the FIR filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation earlier this year.
However, when the CBI had filed the FIR, LC had maintained that their organisation was being targetted for the kinds of cases its office bearers choose to fight in court. A statement from the NGO read, “It (the FIR) has been filed to target the organisation and its office bearers to silence them for cases and issues they have taken up in the past and continue to take up since 2016.”
LC and its office bearers have represented activists in the Bhima Koregaon case and a former employee of the Supreme Court who had levelled sexual harassment allegations against the CJI. They have also taken up the Sohrabuddin case, where Home Minister Amit Shah was earlier an accused an later cleared of charges.
Interestingly, office bearers of LC have also represented in the Supreme Court, former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar, who is currently being hunted by the CBI in connection with the Saradha chit fund case, even as he has filed an application for anticipatory bail in the Alipore Sessions court and the agency has been denied a non-bailable warrant.
The CBI had registered the case against LC and Anand Grover based on a complaint from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which had forwarded a report of an investigation into alleged FCRA violations by the NGO, including using foreign donations to fund advocacy with Members of Parliament and organise dharnas. The MHA complaint also alleges that LC had paid Rs 96.6 lakh to Indira Jaising, during her time as ASG, from funds received as foreign contributions.