The Statesman – Foreign Funds case: Supreme Court asks Indira Jaising, Anand Grover to reply

New Delhi – India, 14 November 2019. The Supreme Court on Thursday sought response from NGO Lawyers Collective and its founding members Anand Grover and Indira Jaising on a plea by the CBI challenging the Bombay High Court order granting protection from coercive action against them in an alleged Foreign Contribution Act violation case.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari issued notice to the senior lawyers and the NGO. The top court also refused to stay the Bombay High Court order.

The CBI had registered a case against Grover and the NGO over alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) in the use of foreign funds received by Lawyers Collective.

The probe agency contended that the High Court had neither rendered any finding as to how the First Information Report or FIR registered against the accused parties was “unsustainable and bad in law” nor referred to any finding as to how the continuance of the investigation against the accused would be contrary to law.

Grover and Indira Jaising had approached the High Court in July seeking the FIR registered by the CBI against the NGO and them in June be set aside. The CBI registered the FIR following a complaint by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in May alleging violation of FCRA provisions.

While the FIR did not name Indira Jaising as an accused, the MHA complaint, which is part of the FIR, mentioned her name and made specific allegations against her.

The CBI alleged that the NGO received foreign funds between 2009 and 2015, but failed to disclose a major part of it. It said that Grover and Jaising used foreign funds for “personal benefits.”

According to the MHA complaint, during her tenure as Additional Solicitor General, Indira Jaising continued to draw remuneration from the NGO, the CBI said, adding that this came from foreign contributions received.

The petitioners also pointed out that the MHA complaint was based on an inspection report from 2016 that had pointed out a single violation of non-disclosure under the FCRA.

At the time, following the inspection report, the MHA had issued an order cancelling the registration of Lawyers Collective for receiving foreign funds.

This cancellation order was challenged in the High Court by the NGO in 2017, and is currently pending before a single judge, the petitioners said.

While granting interim relief, the division bench took note of the petitioners’ submission that the CBI’s act of filing an FIR on the basis of a two-and-a-half-year-old report, when the matter had reached the court, was questionable.

This is an attempt to stifle the voice of Human Rights lawyers, using an alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Act.
Man in Blue

Foreign Funds case: SC asks Indira Jaising, Anand Grover to reply

The Tribune – Prince Charles hails contribution of Sikhs in United Kingdom

New Delhi – India, 13 November 2019. Britain’s Prince Charles, who arrives on Wednesday on a two-day official visit to India, has hailed the “inspiring” principles of Sikhism and the contribution of the Sikh community in the UK.

The Prince of Wales, who is to visit a Gurdwara in New Delhi to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, posted a personal message on the Clarence House Instagram page.

“As I depart for India, on my tenth official visit, I just want to convey my warmest best wishes to all of you in the Sikh Community in the UK, and across the Commonwealth, on the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji,” he said.

“The principles on which Guru Nanak founded the Sikh religion, and which guide your lives to this day, are the ones which can inspire us all: hard work, fairness, respect, and selfless service to others.

In embodying these values, Sikhs have made the most profound contribution to the life of this country, and continue to do so, in every imaginable field, just as you do in so many other places around the world.”

“This week, as Sikhs everywhere honour the founder of your faith, my wife and I wanted you to know just how much your community is valued and admired by us all, and that our thoughts are with you at this very special time,” Prince Charles added, signing the note, “HRH The Prince of Wales.”

Prince Charles is arriving on what will be his 10th official visit to India, to celebrate enduring British-Indian ties, with a focus on shared global challenges like sustainability and climate change.

His engagements in the national capital, include a bilateral meeting with the President Ram Nath Kovind. He will present a Commonwealth ‘Points of Light’ award to an Indian winner for her exemplary contribution to the field of social development that involves upliftment of disabled children, family counselling and therapy sessions, a British High Commission statement said.

Prince Charles will participate in a discussion on how to strengthen disaster resilience and tackle the effects of climate change at the Indian Meteorological Department.

He will visit a Sikh temple [Gurdwara] to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak and mark the contribution of the Sikh community in the UK.

He will attend a military service to commemorate the sacrifices of soldiers from India, the UK and across the Commonwealth in World War One and World War Two.

He will also attend a discussion with influential Indian business leaders to seek their advice and input on sustainable markets.

Prince Charles is travelling alone to India, but will be meeting up with his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall in Auckland.

The couple will embark on a week-long tour of New Zealand.

Gent: Burgstraat – De Lijn Tram 1

07 November 2019

Laying of new tracks

Tracks for trams to Flanders Expo are in place

Karmel – Roman Catholic Church

Heavy machinery

Work on the tracks for trams to Evergem has not yet started

Tram stop not in use

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Deccan Chronicle – On his 10th visit to India, Prince Charles visits Gurdwara Bangla Sahib

His visit comes a day after the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev was celebrated.

New Delhi – India, 13 November 2019. Britain’s Prince Charles, who is on a three-day trip to India, visited Gurdwara Bangla Sahib here on Wednesday. Prince Charles was bestowed a ‘Siropa’, robe of honour, and was given a warm welcome by Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC).

Moreover, he paid obeisance at the Gurdwara and interacted with the Sikhs. Besides, he was seen flipping roties during his visit.

His visit comes a day after the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev was celebrated with much joy and fervour throughout the country and different parts of the world. This is Prince Charles’ 10th official visit to India.

His engagements in the national capital include a bilateral meeting with the President Ram Nath Kovind.

He will also present a Commonwealth ‘Points of Light’ award to an Indian winner for her exemplary contribution to the field of social development that involves upliftment of disabled children, family counselling and therapy sessions, a British High Commission statement said.

The Hindu – House of Representatives to host second hearing on human rights in Kashmir today

Witnesses will examine the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and offer recommendations for action by Congress

Sriram Lakshman

Washington DC – USA, 14 November 2019. With a hearing on Kashmir at the USA House of Representatives scheduled for 14 November, the choppy waters on Capitol Hill that India has found itself in, at least since the October 22 hearing on human rights in South Asia, do not seem to be letting up.

The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bi-partisan commission, will hold a hearing “to examine the human rights situation in the former State of Jammu and Kashmir in India in historical and national context,” a statement from the Commission’s website said.

“Witnesses will examine the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the context of the region’s history and larger patterns of rights violations in India and Pakistan, and will offer recommendations for action by Congress,” the Commission said, outlining the restrictions from the Indian side placed on Kashmir since Article 370 was abrogated by Parliament in early August.

‘Article 370 hampering development in J&K’

“The increased militarisation of the security presence in the region and the economic and social consequences of the central government’s actions, including continuing restrictions on internet and phones, have also provoked widespread concern,” the statement read.

“In addition, militants have targeted migrant workers from outside Kashmir, and have threatened businesses to maintain a protest shutdown.”

Indian diplomats have, since the legislative changes in early August, been doing the rounds of Capitol Hill as well as lobbying at the state and district level via the Consuls General, highlighting the government’s position on the changes in Kashmir issue, that Article 370 was hampering development in Jammu and Kashmir and therefore had to go, and that restrictions, which have been progressively eased, are in place for security reasons.

These arguments did not stop the criticism at the 22 October hearing. Members of Congress were focussed on continuing restrictions on mobile data and internet access in Kashmir, the numbers still in detention and foreign correspondents not being allowed access to the region.

This prompted renewed diplomatic outreach by Indian officials, including India’s USA Ambassador meeting with USA lawmakers on 29 and 30 October.

List of witnesses

The Indian side has concerns about Thursday’s hearing, including that the list of witnesses largely comprises known critics of the Indian position, The Hindu has learned.

One witness, Yousra Y Fazili, a human rights lawyer, is the niece of one of those detained in Kashmir, Mubeen Shah. The Commission website describes Ms Fazili as a “Human rights lawyer and Kashmiri-American cousin of Mubeen Shah, detained Kashmiri businessman.”

The Hindu asked a Commission representative for a response to the criticism that it was one-sided.

“The Commission’s mandate is to promote, defend and advocate for internationally recognised human rights norms as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Kimberly Stanton, a spokesperson for the Commission told The Hindu.

“The ‘side’ the Commission takes on all issues is that of individuals and communities who credibly allege that their rights have been violated.”

The witness list also includes Sunanda Vashisht, who the Commission describes as a “writer, political commentator, and Kashmiri Hindu who identifies as a victim of ethnic cleansing.”

A Commissioner from the USA Commission on International Religious Freedom, Arunima Bhargava, will testify in the first of two panels at the hearing. The second panel will include human rights lawyers, a professor of anthropology and John Stifton, a director at Human Rights Watch.

Short notice around the hearing

Another issue for the Indian side has been the short notice around the hearing, which was posted on Monday, three days before the hearing itself.

“Commission hearings are posted once the description of the topic and initial witness list receive final approval. In this case, the hearing was finalised over the weekend and posted on the holiday [Monday],” Ms Stanton told The Hindu.

The panel, is headed by James P McGovern (Democrat, Massachusetts) and Chris Smith (Republican, New Jersey), and is mostly comprised of Democrats, who have, typically, been more vocal in their criticism of India’s recent actions around Kashmir.

“We are working hard to level the playing field,” India’s Ambassador to the USA Harsh Vardhan Shringla told The Hindu, about current diplomatic efforts around Thursday’s hearing, but did not elaborate on how this was being done.