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SC reserves verdict in Teesta Setalvad’s challenge to freezing of bank accounts

LiveMint logoLiveMint 05-07-2017 Priyanka Mittal

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved judgment in a plea by activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband challenging an order of the Gujarat high court rejecting the unfreezing of bank accounts related to their NGO as well as personal ones.

Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand who run the Sabrang Trust and Mumbai-based Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) face allegations of embezzling funds collected through donations for constructing a memorial for the 2002 Gujarat riots. An FIR has been filed with the Gujarat Police on charges of cheating, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds.

Their bank accounts have been frozen and a probe by the Gujarat Police is underway.

During the course of arguments, Tushar Mehta, counsel for the state of Gujarat, submitted vouchers showing expenditure out of money donated for educational purposes on liquor, movies, entertainment, and other personal items.

He added that their personal accounts currently did not have a large amount of funds as they had withdrawn and siphoned off crores from their accounts upon learning that their accounts were going to be frozen.

Kapil Sibal, counsel for Setalvad, questioned how the offence had been made out in the first place. “The transactions are between my client and the donor who has not complained against me. It is not the government’s money in question, then under what law is an offence being made out,” Sibal asked.

He also wondered why the police had not been able to file a chargesheet after three and a half years of investigation.

The apex court had in February questioned the source of money in the bank accounts of Setalvad and others, which were frozen by the Gujarat police in 2015.

In October 2015, Gujarat high court upheld the verdict of a lower court regarding freezing of their bank accounts and observed that the police investigation should not be interrupted in the case.

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