New Delhi, Dec 1: The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended, till January 31, bail of social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand in the case of alleged misuse of funds collected by their NGO Sabrang Trust for a museum at a spot witnessing one of the worst massacres in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Extending the bail, a bench of Justice Anil R. Dave, Justice Fakkir Mohammed Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice V. Gopala Gowda issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Setalvad's plea challenging that part of the Bombay High Court verdict holding there was some misuse of funds received by the trust from Ford Foundation and thus were in breach of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
The high court in its August 11, 2015 order had said that "prima facie, after hearing the submissions and after going through the documents placed before it, it appears that there is some misuse of amount they received from the Foundation for which the applicants accused are undoubtedly answerable."
"As per the case of prosecution, at this initial stage, it is accepted that the money received is a contribution and therefore the acceptance and utilization of the said amount requires regulation under the Act and therefore there is violation of the provisions of the Act."
Citing this part of the verdict, senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for the couple, contended that there was no basis for the high court to say so and the same was to be determined by the trial court after examining the case on merits.
In their petition, Setalvad and Anand said it "pertains to the limited extent of observations made by the high court, which are questions of merits, to be determined at the stage of the trial after examining the relevant documents and evidence with regard to the same".
Having issued notice to CBI, the apex court said that it would hold hearing on the petitions both by Setalvad and CBI on January 21.
On October 14, the court had issued notice to Setalvad and Anand on CBI's plea challenging the high court's August 11 order granting the duo anticipatory bail holding that their activities posed no threat to the integrity of the country.
The high court held that the documents being sought by the CBI relates to accounts and therefore do not require custodial interrogation and both were unlikely to flee the country.
CBI has alleged that the Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt run by Setalvad received foreign grants from Ford Foundation which were prohibited under then Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).
Setalvad and Anand were granted bail by the apex court on February 19 as it restrained the Gujarat Police from arresting them, after they moved it against the Gujarat High Court's February 12 order declining them anticipatory bail in the alleged misuse of funds case.