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    SC reserves judgment on Teesta Setalvad anticipatory bail

    The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved judgement in an anticipatory bail plea for human rights activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband, Javed Anand.

     Setalvad had appealed a Gujarat high court order that denied her anticipatory bail on 12 February. Setalvad and Anand have been accused of embezzling funds collected through donations for the construction of a memorial for the 2002 Gujarat riot victims at Gulbarg Society.

    As a temporary relief, however, the apex court directed that no arrests would be made in relation to the investigation into the alleged embezzlement of funds through Setalvad’s two trusts—the Centre for Peace and Justice and Sabrang Trust.

     A bench of justices Dipak Misra and A.K. Goel heard arguments from the Gujarat government and Setalvad for nearly two hours. Judge Misra questioned the need for custodial interrogation in a case where there were allegations of embezzlement and possible irregularity in the accounts of the trusts.
    Lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani, for the Gujarat state, who was also the special public prosecutor before the high court, said that they were asking for custodial interrogation because there had been “rank non-cooperation” and “tampering with witnesses” by Setalvad and Anand. He added that trust money, collected for the beneficiaries, here the riot victims, had been used for personal credit card payments.

    While refraining from making any observations to that extent, the court orally said that while some cases required custodial interrogation, this perhaps was not one of them.

     Lawyer Kapil Sibal, for Setalvad, agreed to furnish documents required by the Gujarat police in furtherance of the investigation. He also said that 11,000 pages of documents had been given to the high court, including cash vouchers.

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