The Supreme Court today extended till January 31 the interim protection from arrest granted to social activist Teesta Setalvad in a case of alleged embezzlement of funds for a museum at Ahmedabad’s Gulbarg Society that was devastated in the 2002 riots.
“Interim relief to continue till January 31,” a three judge bench headed by Justice A R Dave said.
Meanwhile, the bench, also comprising Justices V Gopala Gowda and FMI Kalifulla, issued notice to CBI on a fresh plea filed by Setalvad in connection with a separate case relating to alleged violations of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).
The plea alleged that the High Court, which had granted anticipatory bail to Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand, erroneously remarked that there was “prima facie” violation of FCRA by them.
While granting anticipatory bail to Setalvad, the High Court had said, “Prima facie this court holds that there has been violation under the FCRA. But where is the threat to national security and public interest? You (CBI) have to show the court this.”
The bench then fixed the batch of pleas, filed by Gujarat police, CBI and Setalwad, for hearing on January 21.
Setalvad and her husband are facing a case registered by the Gujarat police relating to alleged embezzlement of funds collected by them for constructing a museum at Ahmedabad’s Gulbarg Society which was ravaged in the 2002 communal riots. The apex court had granted them protection in this matter.
Another case has been registered by the CBI alleging that the Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt Ltd, run by Setalvad, received foreign grants from the Ford Foundation in violation of FCRA provisions, in which the Bombay High Court has granted anticipatory bail to the couple.
The CBI, Gujarat police and Setalvad have filed separate petitions in the apex court in these two matters.
Earlier, the court had warned Setalvad and her husband that their failure to adhere to the conditions imposed by the High Court may lead to the cancellation of their anticipatory bail granted in the FCRA violation case.
The CBI has contested the August 11 order of the Bombay
High Court granting anticipatory bail to Setalvad and her husband in the FCRA violation case, claiming the court had erred in giving relief after holding “prima facie” that they had violated the law.
While the couple has denied all charges, claiming they are being victimised for taking up the cause of riot victims, the agency said after ‘prima facie’ holding that there was misuse of funds they had received from Ford Foundation for which they were “undoubtedly answerable”, the high court ought not have granted anticipatory bail using its extraordinary discretionary powers.
The fresh plea of Setalvad, challenging some remarks of the High Court, said, “The observations made by the High Court in para 8 of the impugned judgment are premature, misconceived and unjustified inasmuch as they have been recorded solely on the basis of the malicious allegations of the prosecution and without there being any relevant document or material on record, necessary to adjudicate upon the merits of the matter.”
The plea has also sought “stay on the the operation of the observations” made by the High Court on the ground that it is affecting Setalvad as the CBI is “treating the same a finding of fact and using it against the Petitioners in the challenge preferred by them”.
( Source – PTI )