The Bombay High Court on Thursday granted relief to Lawyer's Collective led by Senior Advocates Indira Jaisingh and Anand Grover and directed the Central Bureau of Investigation not to take any coercive steps in relation to the FIR filed against them until August 19.
Division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Bharati Dangre was hearing an application filed by the Lawyer's Collective for quashing of the said FIR against the NGO that works in the area of human rights.
The FIR was registered last month after a complaint was filed by Anil Kumar Dhasmana, an Under Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), on May 15, 2019 alleging that the NGO diverted foreign contributions for activities not mentioned in the objects of association and that funds were used for personal expenses unrelated to these objects.
The FIR alleges forgery, cheating, criminal conspiracy and violation of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
Lawyer Collective's FCRA license was cancelled in 2016 on the basis of these allegations. The NGO called this "illegal and arbitrary" and that it was a vindictive measure for taking up sensitive cases against the government. The said cancellation is under challenge before the Bombay High Court.
Previously, Justice MS Sonak heard the appeal filed by lawyer's collective against the said order dated November 27, 2016 by the Centre under Section 14 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. cancelling the NGO's certificate of registration.
In an interim order, Justice Sonak held that the Centre's allegations of "mixing of foreign contribution with domestic funds" were "vague and bereft of reasoning." Thereafter, Court ordered Lawyer Collective's domestic accounts to be de-freezed.
CBI's FIR states that the NGO "was registered for carrying out social activities and had received foreign contribution amounting to Rs 32.39 crore between 2006-07 to 2014-15, but money was used for political purposes".
Court has also directed the CBI to file its reply to the Lawyer Collective's application for quashing.