Another NGO faces govt action over fgn funds

Noted lawyer Indira Jaising-led ‘Lawyers Collective’ will not be allowed to receive foreign funds with government suspending its licence for six months on charges of misusing donations collected from abroad.

The order issued by Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday found fault with Jaising for accepting remuneration of Rs 96.60 lakh from the NGO for her services at a time when she was functioning as Additional Solicitor General for the government between July 2009 and May 2014.

The move against Lawyers Collective came against the backdrop of similar actions against Greenpeace India and Teesta Setalvad-led Sabrang Trust. The NGO has been given 30 days to respond to the notice and if the MHA is not satisfied with the response, it can cancel the registration.

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indira jaising ‏@IJaising
Condemn the beaten attack by government disguised as alleged violations of FCRA , days after I spoke at Rana Ayub book release

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“It is really surprising, that how a senior law officer, such as an ASG can simultaneously be and for such a long period be on the rolls of a private entity, being paid (out of foreign contribution) for undisclosed purposes by the entity in gross violation of rules applicable to law officers of Union of India,” the order said.

The NGO did not obtain appropriate clearance for giving remuneration for the lawyer. In curious observations, it wondered why she herself should have agreed for such an arrangement.

Noting that this raises “pertinent questions”, the order under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010 said she travelled to Nepal and the United States using the funds provided by the NGO without government’s authorisation.

Jaising despite doing such a “sensitive” job as an ASG, she accepted the money from the corpus of foreign contribution but also travelled abroad, it said.

Besides, it also questioned the money given to Lawyers Collective Trustee Anand Grover, who is Jaising’s husband, for travel for the purpose of work as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Right to Health.

The order noted that the air tickets booked for Jaising and Grover using foreign funds on various occasions was violation of rules.

The order also said that foreign funds were used to lobby with MPs and thereby influencing political process and Parliamentary institutions, which is a “clear violation” of the Act.

Another violation cited by the MHA is the payment to foreigners for professional services and travelling expenses. The foreigners visited India on tourist visa to assist Grover. The order said Rs 22.53 lakh was spent for Grover’s air travel.

The MHA also said the NGO frequently transferred foreign funds from one utilisation bank account to another. There is no provision under FCRA for this, the order said.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jun 2, 2016)

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