Mumbai/Ahmedabad/New Delhi: A Gujarat Police team, accompanied by their Mumbai counterparts, reached the home of social activist Teesta Setalvad in Mumbai after a Gujarat court declined her plea for anticipatory bail in an alleged embezzlement case but the apex court restrained her arrest.
Setalvad, 53 and her husband Javed Anand, both journalists-turned activists, faced possible arrest in the case after the Gujarat High Court rejected their plea. However the Supreme Court restrained police from arresting the duo till Friday.
Earlier Tuesday, the high court rejected the anticipatory bail pleas filed by Setalvad, Anand, Tanvir Jafri, son of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the 2002 riots, and Firoze Gulzar, a resident of the Gulbarga Society in Ahmedabad.
In Mumbai, the police teams enquired from her family and staffers on the whereabouts of Setalvad, who was not at home. However, the Supreme Court came to the couple’s relief after counsel Kapil Sibal mentioned the matter before it.
The bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice A.K.Sikri and Justice Arun Mishra, while restraining police from arresting Setalvad and her husband for one day, directed the listing of the matter Friday.
Sibal told the court that soon after Setalvad and others’ plea for anticipatory bail was rejected by the High court, the Gujarat Police reached her Mumbai residence to arrest her.
In her petition, Setalvad said that both she and her husband were victims of political vendetta as they were involved in the rehabilitation of the victims of 2002 Gujarat communal riots and securing justice to them and this not found appreciation of Gujarat government.
The petition contended that the 2002 carnage was “motivated and supported by the communal outfits of the party in power, and the state government is not appreciative of the efforts of the petitioners and are constantly trying to dissuade and disrupt the activities of the petitioner”. “The present FIR”, the petition said, “is also lodged at the behest of the political outfits and has absolutely no merit in it”.
Seeking protection from arrest, the petition by Selalvad and Anand expressed apprehension that they may be “physically harassed and abused” by Gujarat Police. “There is an apprehension” that Setalvad could be “bodily harmed given the history with police” which had warranted the apex court to grant her protection.
Setalvad and her husband have fighting for the victims of the communal carnage which engulfed Gujarat following the Godhra train incident of Feb 27, 2002.
The couple, and some others have been accused of allegedly misappropriating around Rs.15 million collected through their NGO Sabrang Trust, for setting up a museum at the Gulbarga Society in Ahmedabad where around 69 people were killed during the communal conflagration.
The complaint against Setalvad was filed by 12 residents of the society after the plans for the proposed museum were put in cold storage citing various issues.
However, Setalvad – whose bail plea was rejected by a lower court in March 2014 – has termed the allegations as “politically motivated”.
Setalvad hails from the renowned Mumbai family of lawyers, which included her great-grandfather M.C. Setalvad, India’s first and longest-serving attorney-general, and his father, C.H. Setalvad who was a vice-chancellor of University of Bombay and a member of the Hunter Commission, which probed the Jallianwala Baugh massacre of 1919.