FIR against Lawyers Collective: Rights groups protest government action

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]UMAN rights groups have come out in strong protest against the FIR lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation against the Lawyers Collection (LC), its President and senior lawyer, Anand Grover and other office bearers, calling it vindictive, arbitrary and malicious.

People’s Union for Civil Liberties and the Bebaak Collective in separate statements,  expressed shock and anger at the FIR saying that it was an attempt by the government to silence voices of dissent, in particular, to intimidate the two human rights crusaders, Jaising and Grover.

“PUCL deplores this undisguised attempt to intimidate and silence Mr Grover, as well as a legal luminary and co-founder of Lawyers Collective, Ms Indira Jaising, and office bearers of the organization,” the organization said in a statement yesterday.

“The lodging of the FIR by the CBI is nothing short of brazen abuse of the process of law. … The complaint registered against the Lawyers Collective, and its key functionaries, Ms Indra Jaisingh and Anand Grover,  constitutes a motivated, vengeful and vituperative act meant to silence not just the Lawyers Collective but also serve as a lesson to all others who dare to challenge the Central Government,” the PUCL said.

It demanded that the state desists from “these continuous attempts to browbeat” Jaising and Grover,  by embroiling them in multiple legal cases and asked that “…this witch-hunt against lawyers, journalists and human rights defenders cease forthwith”.

Condemning what they called the arbitrary, malicious and blatant attack on the Lawyers Collective, the Bebaak Collective (Voice of the Fearless) said in their statement that the charges mentioned in the FIR seemed “vindictive” to quell any form of dissent or resistance by human rights activists in this society.

“It is clear that the government wants to target the organization and its office bearers to silence them for the cases and issues that they have taken up in the past and in the present since 2016.

“We, being a women’s rights collective want to condemn and express our shock, dissent against the suspension of LC’s license and this blatant attack of the right to representation of all persons particularly the marginalized,”  Bebaak said.

The statement pointed to two significant legal battles that LC had fought for Muslim women –  triple talaq and female genital mutilation case. “The verdict against triple talaq was a landmark case where Muslim women are finally able to fight for their equal rights and entitlements towards empowering themselves; Lawyers Collective fought the petition relentlessly against this discrimination and its defeat. On the issue of genital mutilation, the Bohra Muslim women have come forward on this issue which has been immensely supported by Lawyers Collective through their legal direction to them,” the statement said.

Demanding that the criminal charges against LC and its office bearers  be dropped immediately, Bebaak asserted, “The State cannot continue this arbitrary and systematic suppression of human rights and the raised voices against the violation.”


Read both statements here