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Custody of Setalvads essential to unearth truth, says ASG Tushar Mehta in SC

Custody of Setalvads essential to unearth truth, says ASG Tushar Mehta in SC
Teesta Setalvad. Photo: YouTube

The Supreme Court on Tuesday (May 9) heard arguments in the matter related to a plea challenging the stand of Gujarat police that social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband had “siphoned off” Rs 3.85 crore for “personal use” from the Rs 9.75 crore donation received by their NGOs for the welfare of the 2002 riot victims in Gujarat.

The counsel for the petitioners Kapil Sibal (Teesta and her husband Javed Anand) submitted details of all accounts related to the NGOs—Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and Sabrang Trust. He said that all accounts were FCRA compliant and whatever little amount that was deposited in the personal accounts of the petitioners was actually cash donations received from individuals. Therefore, there was no need to freeze them.

Sibal also submitted that whatever little money was received by way of individual donations was still lying untouched and the money which had been spent actually went to the poor people in the aftermath of Gujarat and Mumbai attacks.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for Gujarat objected to Sibal’s arguments. He said that in times of insurmountable difficulty, the tendency was to over simplify the truth and that is exactly what Sibal was trying to do.

Mehta submitted that from the investigation, it was amply clear that the accused had used the donation money in buying expensive clothes and jewelry. Further, the money collected in the name of building Gulbarg Memorial was fraudulently used for personal expenses.

Mehta also submitted that investigation was still under way and more facts would come to light if and when the state gets the custody of the Setalvads (Teesta and her husband Javed Anand), as custodial interrogation was required to unearth the truth.

Sibal submitted that this case had got nothing to do with FCRA, and at the most, it was a limited case of diversion of money collected for the Gulbarg Society which was a different entity and had nothing to do with either CJP or Sabrang.

The matter listed for July 5, 2017

—India Legal Bureau