SC Notice Against Lawyers’ Collective, Indira Jaising Claims Victimization For Questioning Probe Procedure In CJI Sexual Harassment Case

With the Supreme Court bench headed by the Chief Justice of India on Wednesday issuing notice to advocates Indira Jaising, Anand Grover, their NGO Lawyers' Collective on a PIL seeking court-monitored SIT probe into the alleged Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) violation, Jaising claimed she is being victimized for being vocal against illegalities in probe into sexual harassment allegations against the CJI.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi issued notice on a PIL moved by Lawyers Voice, a voluntary organisation of lawyers, which sought an SIT probe against what he called a "frontal attack on the Constitution of the Country, its democratic process and administration of justice" The PIL urges the court to constitute a Special Investigating Team comprising of officers of the investigating agencies as deemed fit by the court to investigate into the "apparent illegality and non-action of the government in registering IPC, PC Act, PMLA, Income Tax Act and other offences committed by the Respondent no. 2 to 4 (Jaising, Grover and Lawyers' Collective)…"

Victimization for questioning inquiry into allegations against CJI Issuing a Statement on the development, Jaising, Grover and Lawyers' Collective (LC) saw the development as victimization on account of Ms Jaising taking up the issue of the procedure adopted in relation to the allegations against the Chief Justice of India by a former employee of the Supreme Court. They also questioned the manner in which the PIL came up for hearing today despite a SC notification expressly stating that matters verified on May 7 will be listed in final cause list of May 10. The Press statement by LC pointed out that the instant PIL was filed on May 6, a number of objections were removed on May 7 and it was not orally mentioned but came to be listed on May 8 contrary to the circulars and notifications of the SC in respect of listing.

As per the latest notification of the SC dated May 7, 2019, fresh matters verified on May 7 were to be listed in the final cause list for May 10.. CJI should have recused "It has been brought to our knowledge that during the proceedings today, though the petitioner's advocate did not orally seek any interim orders, the court has passed an order to the effect that the pendency of the petition will not come in the way of the government agencies proceeding in the matter.

"It is obvious to us that this is victimization on account of Ms Jaising taking up the issue of the procedure adopted in relation to the allegations against the Chief Justice of India by a former employee of the Supreme Court, which Ms Jaising has done in her capacity as a concerned citizen, a senior member of the Bar and a women's rights advocate, without commenting on the merits of the allegations. "Considering that Ms. Jaising has been publicly vocal on the issue of due process of law in relation to the conduct of the in-house inquiry, the Chief Justice ought to have recused himself from hearing the matter," the statement read. Refuting the allegations of any misutilization of funds, the statement said, "It appears from the oral submissions by the Advocate of the petitioner that the petition concerns the"mis-utilization" of foreign funding under FCRA. We wish to state that the LC has no foreign funding since 2016, when its FCRA registration was suspended and subsequently cancelled by the MHA on false and illegal grounds. LC has taken up appropriate legal proceedings against the cancellation in accordance with law. In any event, we strongly dispute any allegation of misutilization of any funds". Meanwhile, the PIL, resting on the petitioner's "reliable information" said that "despite recording serious acts of commission and omission by the Union of India in its order dated May 31, 2016 and order dated November 27, 2016, which led to the cancellation of FCRA certificate of Lawyers' Collective, the officers of the Union of India have deliberately not registered offences against the respondents under the respective criminal Acts for reasons best known to them".

The PIL said the Centre did not register cases because of malafide and extraneous reasons which the petitioner said was a violation of its fundamental right. The PIL further states that from the above orders of the Centre, it is clear that Jaisingh and Grover have received foreign funding to influence democratic process of the country in political arena by unauthorizedly lobbying with the Members of Parliament and media for passing of certain legislations and to influence the policy decisions. Read the full statement by Lawyers Collective here.