Press Releases

Targeting of Lawyers and Rights Defenders in India: Press Release

New York City Bar Association Releases Statement on Targeting of Lawyers Collective, Anand Grover, Indira Jaising, and Other Lawyers and Rights Defenders in India

The New York City Bar Association’s International Human Rights Committee and its Task Force on the Independence of Lawyers and Judges has issued a statement voicing concern over the “Indian government’s ongoing campaign of harassment and intimidation used to target lawyers and other human rights defenders, which has intensified over the last several years.”

The recent actions against Lawyers Collective and its founders, Supreme Court of India advocates Anand Grover and Indira Jaising, demonstrate this trend. “Mr. Grover and Ms. Jaising are well-respected, senior advocates with extensive experience as public service lawyers and human rights defenders in India and abroad,” the statement says. Together they established a prominent human rights and public interest organization, Lawyers Collective, which is based in New Delhi and maintains its registered office in Mumbai. Since at least 2016, the Indian government has used the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (“FCRA”) to pursue Lawyers Collective, jeopardizing its required NGO-licensing and justifying punitive action so as to stymie Lawyers Collective’s work. “Domestic and international human rights groups have…highlighted the filing of criminal charges against Lawyers Collective and Mr. Grover as evidence that the FCRA is prone to misuse by the government to harass outspoken rights groups,” according to the statement.

“Such reports are particularly disquieting for the international community in light of India’s status as the world’s largest democracy, with a robust constitutional tradition of free speech and press, combined with entrenched democratic and civil society institutions serving a pluralistic and multicultural populace,” the statement says. “The very fabric of India’s democracy and rule of law are endangered by arbitrary and capricious government actions that chill and suppress freedom of expression and retaliate (or even appear to retaliate) against government critics.”

The City Bar urges the Indian government to repeal or substantially amend the FCRA to bring it into compliance with international human rights standards, and states, “The Association stands in solidarity with lawyers and human rights defenders all over the world. Accordingly, it respectfully requests the Indian authorities to abide by, and defer to, judicial due process and await the result of the appeal lodged by Lawyers Collective relating to the validity of the 2016 MHA FCRA Report.” 

The statement can be read here: