Ahmedabad: The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed till Friday (13 February 2015) the arrest of social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband, soon after the Gujarat high court rejected their anticipatory bail plea in a case of alleged embezzlement of funds for a museum at Gulbarg society, devastated in the 2002 riots.
A bench headed by chief justice H.L. Dattu said Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand would be protected from the arrest till the matter is heard tomorrow. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal orally mentioned about the imminent arrest of the couple, soon after the high court rejected their anticipatory bail.
Sibal along with advocate Aparna Bhat mentioned the plea, when the bench, which also comprised justices A.K. Sikri and Arun Mishra, was hearing another case. The lawyers said the police was at their doorstep, hell bent to arrest them.
This is “an extraordinary situation" and therefore should be heard urgently, they said. The bench said that the appeal against the High Court decision could be filed in the course of the day.
The couple rushed to the apex court within an hour of the high court dismissing their plea for a stay on its order to allow them time to move the Supreme Court. The High Court also observed that Setalvad was not cooperating in the probe and “they cannot be armoured with full fledged anticipatory bail when applicant did not cooperate with the investigation." Setalvad and her husband have been booked by the Crime Branch of Gujarat Police on charges of cheating, breach of trust and under the IT Act, in a matter relating to the construction of “Museum of Resistance" in the Gulbarg society in Ahmedabad which was hit by communal riot in 2002.
The crime branch had in January last year registered an FIR against Setalvad and others on complaints by some former residents of the Gulbarg society and riot victims accusing them of embezzling ₹ 1.51 crore collected by them in donations for turning the housing society, ravaged during the riots, into a museum.
The idea was later dropped. The matter came to light after 12 residents of the society demanded ₹ 1.51 crore from Setalvad, who was assisting riot victims in several cases, as the money had been raised in their name.