New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended, till March 18, the interim bail granted to social activists Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand in the alleged misuse of funds collected by their NGO Sabrang Trust for setting up a museum at Gulbarga Society which witnessed one of the worst carnage during 2002 Gujarat riots.
While protecting Setalvad and Anand from being arrested, the bench of Justice Anil R. Dave, Justice Fakkir Mohammed Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice V. Gopala Gowda asked her to make available to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) all the documents including utility certificate of the funds that her Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Ltd (SCPPL) had received from the Ford Foundation.
Fixing the next date of hearing on March 9, the apex court gave Setalvad two weeks time to submit the documents sought by the investigating agency by its April 11, 2015 communication.
As Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar appearing for the CBI told the court that Setalvad was not co-operating and was not furnishing the documents sought by the investigating agency, her counsel Kamini Jaiswal said that if non-cooperation meant that she was not giving to the investigating agency documents to their liking, then surely she was no cooperating.
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal told the court that CBI was seeking documents relating to 2004 to 2006 and under the Income Tax Act and the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, there was no obligation on the part of the recipient of the foreign aid to maintain the records beyond eight years of the transaction under scrutiny.
He told the court that even after the statutory bar, he had asked Setalvad to provide whatever documents were there in their custody to the investigating agency, notwithstanding that they were under no statutory obligation to do so.
Justice Kalifulla said: “We will examine it”, as Sibal said that when they say that statutorily, they are not bound to furnish documents relating to 2004 to 2006, the CBI describes it as “non-cooperation”.
Ranjit Kumar told the court that all that the CBI was asking is the utility certificate that the Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Ltd had given to Ford Foundation for two grants received by it.
Referring to the vouchers submitted by Sabrang Communication and Publishing, the investigating agency in its application has said that these reflect that the funds were not utilised for the intended purposes, namely charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes for which the grants were provided by Ford Foundation.
The CBI has alleged that Sabrang Communications and Publishing run received foreign grants from Ford Foundation which were prohibited under then Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
Setalvad and Anand were granted interim bail by the apex court on February 19 as it restrained the Gujarat Police from arresting them in the case.
They had moved the apex court challenging the Gujarat High Court’s February 12 verdict declining them anticipatory bail in the alleged misuse of funds case.