New Delhi, Nov 14 : The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to senior advocate Indira Jaising and her husband Anand Grover on the CBI’s plea in alleged Foreign Contribution Act (FCRA) violation case.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, however, refused to stay the Bombay High Court order which had ordered that no coercive action be taken against the lawyers.
The top court asked the senior advocates to file response on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)’s appeal against their protection from arrest, as it heard the agency’s plea and a writ petition, which sought expeditious probe against the lawyers’ NGO, Lawyers Collective.
The CBI had moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court stating that the interim protection from coercive steps is equivalent to anticipatory bail, which is unsustainable and bad in law.
The high court had restrained the CBI from taking any coercive steps against the senior lawyers.
The CBI, which registered a case against Grover and the NGO over alleged FCRA violations, contended that the high court neither rendered any finding as to how the FIR registered against the accused is “unsustainable and bad in law”.
“Nor the high court has rendered any finding as to how the continuance of the investigation against the accused would be contrary to law,” said the CBI in its plea.
According to the agency, the high court on the two points — the FIR against the accused and continuity in the investigations — did not render any findings, but instead passed the interim order on a completely untenable reason that the FIR is based on the inspection of the report of 2016 and there is no fresh material. As a result, the order of no coercive step was warranted.
The CBI contended in its plea “when the allegations in the FIR otherwise manifested commissioning of a cognizable offence, the said ground of no new fresh material was completely impertinent and extraneous for exercise of powers under Section 482 CrPC”.
The agency cited the 2015 letter issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs to the accused stating its FCRA Wing was mandated to administer FCRA to bring transparency and accountability while ensuring national security.
In 2016, the Ministry had conducted inspection of books of accounts and records, which revealed the alleged accused, had indulged in prima facie violation of FCRA provisions.
In May 2016, the FCRA of the NGO was suspended. A FIR was lodged in June this year, following a complaint by the Home Ministry. Although, the FIR did not name Jaising as an accused, but the ministry’s complaint mentioned her name and made specific allegations against her.