Why Do You Want Teesta Setalvad, Husband Back In Custody: SC Asks CBI

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Why Do You Want Teesta Setalvad, Husband Back In Custody: SC Asks CBI

| Updated: January 26, 2023 15:23

The social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand have been out on bail for more than seven years when the Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the Gujarat Police and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as to why they wanted to send them back to prison.

A bench of Justices SK Kaul, AS Oka and BV Nagarathna, were hearing a batch of pleas filed by Setalvad, Anand, the Gujarat police and the Central Bureau of Investigation, in connection to three first information reports lodged against the couple over alleged embezzlement of funds raised for victims of 2002 Gujarat riots.

Setalvad and Anand’s lawyers, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal and lawyer Aparna Bhat, informed the court that the cases against them have been ongoing for eight years. While the investigating agencies have not yet filed charge sheets, the court has granted anticipatory bail and regular bail to Setalvad and Anand in separate cases, according to Sibal.

“Question is how long can you keep someone in custody,” the court said. “Seven years have passed since anticipatory bail was granted. You want to send her back to custody.”

The Central Bureau of Investigation and the Gujarat Police requested an additional four weeks to provide new evidence to the court about the ongoing cases. The Ahmedabad Crime Branch filed an FIR in 2014 in connection with the development of the Museum of Resistance in the city’s Gulberg Housing Society, alleging deceit, breach of trust, and violations of the Information Technology Act.

During the Gujarat riots, a crowd attacked the Gulberg Society, flinging stones and setting homes on fire while killing 69 people on February 28, 2002. Ehsan Jafri, a former Congress leader, was killed in the assault. Setalvad and Anand, trustees of the non-profit organisations, Citizens for Justice and Peace and Sabrang Trust, were charged with soliciting donations totalling crores of rupees without using the funds to construct the museum or help the Gulberg Society’s inhabitants.

The CBI is looking into the alleged abuse of foreign cash that is the subject of the second FIR filed against the couple. The central agency claimed that the couple’s company, Sabrang Communication and Publishing, had received Rs 1.8 crore from the Ford Foundation in the US without first obtaining the necessary authorization from the central government.

For unlawfully obtaining Rs 1.4 crore in central government funds for Sabrang Trust between 2010 and 2013, the third FIR was filed against Setalvad and Anand.

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