The Gujarat High Court on Monday extended the protection from arrest to activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband, Javed Anand till 13 June in the Rs. 1.4 crore fund embezzlement case lodged against them by the Gujarat Police.
Justice Biren Vaishnav extended the protection in view of the order issued by the Apex Court last month, whereby the interim protection from arrest and transit anticipatory bail granted to the duo by the Bombay High Court was extended from 2 May to 31 May.
The Apex Court Bench headed by Justice Kurian Joseph had however directed the couple to approach the competent court in Gujarat, allowing it to decide the matter on merits. They then approached the High Court after a lower Court rejected their anticipatory bail plea. Extending the protection, the order reads:
"In view of the fact that by an order of the Supreme Court dated 09.04.2018 passed in S.L.P. (criminal) No. 3135 of 2018, the petitioners have been protected up to 31.05.2018. The protection so granted is extended up to 13.06.2018."
The matter will now be heard on 12 June.
The case against the couple was registered by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch on a complaint filed by one Raeeskhan Pathan accusing Ms. Setalvad and Mr. Anand of "fraudulently" securing grants of Rs.1.4 crore from the union government through their NGO Sabrang Trust between 2008 and 2013. The Gujarat Police claims that while the funds were obtained to help victims of the 2002 post-Godhra Gujarat riots, they were largely misappropriated.
In fact, the Crime Branch reportedly accuses the couple of misusing the funds "to pay witnesses in serious cases in Gujarat (2002 riot cases) to make a false deposition." However, the couple claims that all the payments made through the funds were through cheques, and hence, were transparent. They further assert that this was a "false complaint", and that the complainant, Pathan, has a "personal grudge" against them.