The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday asked the CBI to submit a status report, within four weeks, regarding its investigation against the human rights group Lawyers Collective and its President Anand Grover.
The NHRC direction came after it received two communications -- one from Henri Tiphagne, a rights activist associated with Human Rights Defenders' Alert, HRDA-India, and from Maja Daruwala, Senior Advisor of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative who expressed grave concern over the criminal cases filed against Lawyers Collective.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a FIR on June 13 under the Foreign Contribution (Regulations) Act (FCRA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on June 13 after getting a Home Ministry report.
Tiphagne said the Ministry's communication to the CBI was made after a petition was filed by an NGO, Lawyers Voice, in the Supreme Court on May 8.
The HRDA has urged the Commission to exercise the provisions laid down under section of 12 (b) of the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHR) Act, 1993, and act on its long-standing request of urgently reviewing FCRA.
Under 12 (b) of PHR Act, the Commission can intervene in any proceeding involving any allegation of violation of human rights.
Both right activists said that the Lawyers Collective was a group of lawyers with a mission to empower and change the status of marginalised groups through the effective use of law and engagement in human rights advocacy, legal aid and litigation.
Grover, the UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Health between August 2008 to July 2014, and Indira Jaising, who served as an Additional Solicitor General between July 2009 and May 2014, are the founders of Lawyers Collective.
Tiphagne and Daruwala said that registration of criminal cases against the group was aimed at intimidating and harassing it.
Daruwala alleged that there was a pattern of intimidation against anyone who challenged government policies.
The complaint from the Home Ministry said that the NGO was registered for carrying out social activities and it received Rs 32.39 crore from 2006-07 to 2014-15.
However, the violation of the FCRA was noticed in 2010, the complaint said, adding that the response filed by the Lawyers Collective was not found to be satisfactory.
In November 2016, the Home Ministry cancelled the registration of Lawyers Collective under the FCRA, stopping the organisation from accepting funding from abroad.
Six months earlier, the NGO's foreign funding licence was suspended.
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