Wed, 25 Jan 2023 08:11 PM IST
The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Central Bureau of Investigation and the government of Gujarat why they want to send social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand to jail again. The couple has been out of prison for over seven years on anticipatory bail.
"Question is how long can you keep someone in custody. Seven years have passed since anticipatory bail was granted. You want to send her back to custody," a three-judge Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Abhay S Oka and BV Nagarathna said, as quoted by news ageny PTI.
Appearing for the CBI and the Gujarat government, advocate Rajat Nair asked for four-weeks time claiming in the top court that some additional material is needed to be placed before the court in this case.
The couple had got a regular bail after a charge sheet in the case was filed following the anticipatory bail that was granted to them in the case, senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Aparna Bhat, representing Setalvad and her husband, said during the proceedings. CBI had appealed against the couple’s anticipatory bail.
Sibal argued that since a regular bail has been granted to the two, CBI’s appeal against the anticipatory bail “does not survive”. Gujarat government’s counsel, Nair, argued that this has happened in one case and there are more than one case against Setalvad. He then requested the court to court to grant him four weeks to provide additional material for record.
"A bench of two judges has referred this matter to a larger bench and has framed questions which need to be decided by this court," Nair said.
The matter has been posted for hearing after four weeks by the Supreme Court bench today. Supreme Court was hearing a set of pleas that were filed by Setalvad, her husband, the Gujarat Police, and the CBI. These pleas stem form three separate FIRs registered against the couple.
The top court had referred the matter of the couple’s anticipatory bail to a larger bench. This was in relation to a case of embezzlement of funds for a museum at Ahmedabad’s Gulbarg Society. The society was destroyed during the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. In this case, the Supreme Court had given an interim order protecting the two from arrest.
The accusation against the couple, who were trustees of two trusts - ‘Citizens for Justice’ and Peace’ and ‘Sabrang Trust’, is that they raised Crores of money from certain individuals in India and abroad by showcasing the plight of victims of the Gulbarg Society riots but no museum was built on the property. The case was filed by Feroz Khan Saeed Khan Pathan. He alleged that the amount raised was not even spent towards the welfare of the victim members of the Gulbarg Society.
The couple is also accused, in another case, of accepting funds from Ford Foundation of the United States in violation of Central laws. A third case against Setalvad accuses her of “fraudulently” securing funds from the Central government for her NGO - Sabrang Trust.
In that case, the Gujarat Police accused Setalvad of obtaining Rs 1.4 Crore, for a project launched in Maharashtra and Gujarat to help victims of 2002 riots, which were then used for other purposes.
(With agency inputs)