Teesta Setalvad, her husband shall not be arrested, rules SC

The apex court reserved its judgement on the bail plea of the two social activists who have been accused of defalcating funds meant for a museum project in Ahmedabad in memory of victims of the 2002 communal riots.



By Mahesh Trivedi

Published: Fri 20 Feb 2015, 11:40 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:45 PM

Ahmedabad — Even as activists in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Gujarat vowed to continue to raise their voice against the state police’s ‘witch-hunt’ against social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand, the Supreme Court on Thursday said that the couple “shall not be arrested” in a Rs15-million embezzlement case. 

The apex court reserved its judgement on the bail plea of the two social activists who have been accused of defalcating funds meant for a museum project in Ahmedabad in memory of victims of the 2002 communal riots.

However, the court told Setalvad and her two Mumbai-based NGOs to provide all documents sought by the Gujarat police, who, the court said, could file an application for cancellation of their bail if she did not co-operate in the investigations.   The Gujarat government had registered the embezzlement case against Setalvad last year.

The anticipatory bail plea of Setalvad and her husband were earlier rejected by the Gujarat high court, prompting them to appeal to the apex court the same day for fear of being arrested.

The new SC bench hearing Setalvad’s plea asked the Gujarat government why custodial interrogation was needed when the case was not fit for such grilling, adding that money said to have been diverted from a trust account for personal use could be an auditing error and did not warrant custodial questioning. “Liberty is paramount and it can’t be curtailed unless allegations are grave with huge impact”, the court observed.

The Gujarat police agreed in the court not to press charges of forgery and information technology Act violation against the couple.

Earlier, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) had accused the Gujarat government and the state police of launching a witch-hunt against the couple in the case.

Said PUCL’s Gautam Thaker: “The only aim behind the police’s efforts to arrest Setalvad is to suppress activists and send a warning to them so that others do not raise their head.

He told journalists PUCL and other NGOs would fight till the end through their national network and activists spread all over India.

A First Information Report (FIR) was registered by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch in January last year, which alleged that Setalvad, Anand, former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri’s son Tanvir as well as Salim Sandhi and Firoz Gulzar, two office bearers of the Gulbarg Society which was attacked during the clashes.

 mahesh@khaleejtimes.com


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