New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday, January 25, sought to know from the Gujarat Police and the Central Bureau of Investigation why they want to send activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband, Javed Anand, to jail after they have been out on anticipatory bail for more than seven years, news agency PTI reported.
A three-judge bench of Justices S.K. Kaul, A.S. Oka and B.V. Nagarathna made the remark while hearing a batch of pleas filed by Setalvad, Anand, the Gujarat Police and the CBI in connection with three first information reports (FIRs) filed against the couple over alleged embezzlement of funds raised for victims of 2002 Gujarat riots.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal and advocate Aparna Bhat, appearing for the couple, sought to highlight before the apex court that cases against them have been pending for eight years. Separately, Sibal told the court that the police is yet to file a chargesheet in the cases even after years and that the couple received bail many years ago.
At this stage, the court said, “Question is how long can you keep someone in custody. Seven years have passed since anticipatory bail was granted. You want to send her [Teesta Setalvad] back to custody?”
To this, the Gujarat police and CBI responded by seeking another four weeks of time to present before the court additional material in connection with FIRs against the couple.
One of the FIRs filed by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch in 2014 against the couple relates to allegations of cheating, breach of trust, and various offences under the Information Technology Act in connection with a matter on the construction of the ‘Museum of Resistance’ in the city’s Gulberg Housing Society.
During the 2002 Gujarat riots, 69 persons had been killed by a mob at Gulberg Housing Society on February 28 that year. Former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was also killed in the attack.
In the aftermath of the riots, Setalvad and Anand are said to have raised crores of rupees as donations for building a museum and to provide support to the affected residents of the housing society. The money was collected under not-for-profit organisations called the Citizens for Justice and Peace, and the Sabrang Trust, of which Setalvad and Anand served as trustees.
In addition to the first FIR, another FIR was filed by CBI against the couple on the allegations that Sabrang Communication and Publishing, which the couple founded, allegedly received Rs 1.8 crore from US-based Ford Foundation without mandatory approval from the Union government.
A third FIR was filed against the couple on the allegations that they had illegally obtained Rs 1.4 crore in government funds for Sabrang Trust between 2010 and 2013.