The Bar Association of India has issued a statement condemning the CBI raids on the offices and residences of Senior Advocates Indira Jaising and Anand Grover as 'excessive, disproportionate and unjustified'.
The raids amount to 'an assault on the independence of lawyers engaged in constitutionally protected activities of advancing human rights and upholding the rule of law', said the BAI.
"The BAI condemns the excessive, disproportionate and unjustified action, which amounts to an assault on the independence of lawyers engaged in constitutionally protected activities of advancing human rights and upholding the rule of law," the statement signed by Advocate Prashant Kumar, President-elect said.
The CBI had last week searched residences and offices of Jaising and her husband Grover, and Lawyers Collective in a case of alleged violation of Foreign Contributions Regulation Act.
The agency had filed an FIR on June 13 against Grover who is the president of Lawyers Collective, a voluntary group known for raising human rights issues in courts, on the basis of a complaint by the Home Ministry that foreign aid received by the group was used in violation of norms.
Lawyers Collective said that the action for alleged violation of FCRA was taken by MHA in 2016 itself, and its officials had inspected and seized several documents from them. Therefore the sudden raid by CBI after three years is wholly uncalled for, especially so when no other NGO whose FCRA license got cancelled in 2016 is facing any criminal action, said the Collective in a statement. The raids are "improper and deplorable" also for the reason that the raided premises included lawyers offices having privileged communications with clients,"including those stigmatized because of HIV or other status", the statement said.
The FIR was registered after the Supreme Court issued notice in a PIL filed by an NGO named 'Lawyers Voice' demanding probe against Lawyers Collective. Soon after the CJI-led bench issued notice in the PIL, Jaising issued a statement suggesting that she was being targeted for demanding due enquiry process in the sexual harassment allegations against the CJI Ranjan Gogoi.
Click here to download statement