Noted lawyer Indira Jaising’s Lawyers Collective, a human rights advocacy firm has been served a notice by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for allegedly receiving foreign funds over Rs 11 crore when she held the post of Additional Solicitor General (ASG) between the years 2009-12. Ms Jaising was appointed by the then UPA government and the MHA in its notice has said that she received foreign funds while holding a government post, which is a violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 (FCRA).

The MHA curiously sent the notice, acting on a complaint filed by Jaipur resident Raj Kumar Sharma where he has alleged that LC received funds from Ford Foundation, Levi Strauss foundation and Open Society Foundation.

The MHA has also sent a set of 32 questions to the association, seeking details of foreign funds which it received in “kind,” the salary details of all the office bearers, list of vehicles purchased from foreign funds, and details of all payments done in cash (above Rs 20,000) in the past three years.

Ms. Jaising is presently representing Gujarat based social activist Teesta Setalvad in Supreme Court, who has also been charged by the government for violating Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) norms.

Ms Jaising’s lawyer-husband Anand Grover, who is the President of Lawyers Collective had petitioned the Supreme Court on behalf of 1993 Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memon in the dead of night, hours before he was to hang at Nagpur prison

In an e-mail response, Ms Jaising who is currently teaching at the University of Pennsylvania Law School told The Hindu, “I have not received any notice from the MHA, I am surprised that it has been released to the press before it is served on me. This shows it is an exercise in creating a negative public perception against me rather than a legal issue. We may state that we have received a letter dated 05.11.2015, bearing from MHA, requesting us to answer a standard questionnaire, which we are in the process of replying by due date of 07.12.2015.”

The Hindu has a copy of the notice as well the set of questionnaire sent to Lawyers Collective on November 5. A senior home ministry official also confirmed to The Hindu that the notice has been served.

MHA has alleged that there were discrepancies in the foreign contributions return filed by the association

The notice served by the MHA says, “Whereas a preliminary assessment of records revealed that Lawyer’s Collective, when its Secretary Ms Indira Jaising (Chief Functionary) was a ‘public servant’ employed as Additional Solicitor General (ASG) by the Govt of India, during the financial years 2009-10 to 2011-12, received foreign contribution of Rs.11,67,37,584. As per Section 3(1)(c) of FCRA 2010, a Government servant or employee of any corporation or any other body controlled or owned by the Government is prohibited from receiving foreign contribution, thereby violating Section 3(1)(c) of FCRA.”

The notice further said that the association underreported an amount of Rs 4.5 crore foreign contributions.

“LC has declared different amount of foreign contributions in its returns to MHA and Income Tax returns to CBDT during 2009-12, in violation of section 33 of FCRA….it operates a bank account in HSBC bank, which has received foreign contribution amounting to Rs 30 lakh, but it is not the designated bank account as declared by the association.”