In a big relief to social activist Teesta Setalvad, the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed her arrest in a case of alleged embezzlement of funds for a museum in Ahmedabad’s Gulbarg Society that was devastated in the 2002 riots.
The apex court bench, which heard the anticipatory bail plea of Teesta Setalvad and her husband, also directed the social activist to give complete list of donors for the construction of a memorial in the Gulbarg Society.
The highest court, while passing the order, said that Teesta Setalvad and her husband shall not be arrested in the funds embezzlement case till its final order is given.
While reserving its verdict in the case, the apex court also asked the Gujarat Police to explain why it needs the custodial interrogation of the social activist.
The apex court bench, however, said that if Teesta does not cooperate in probe, the Gujarat Police can file application for cancellation of their bail.
The order was passed by a new bench of the Supreme Court, which took up the case in a surprise move.
No reasons were given for the change in the bench. The case was shifted from the bench of Justices SJ Mukhopadhya and NV Ramana, which had granted protection from arrest to the couple for six days on February 13, to a bench comprising Justices Dipak Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goel.
The bench of Justices Mukhopadhaya and Ramana had said during the last hearing that the allegations against Setalvad and her husband were “grave” and it was not even a case for quashing the FIR.
It had even asked couple to “surrender and seek regular bail” as they have been accused of collecting funds in the names of riots victims and religion but later granted the relief.
There were a number of occasions during the 30-minute hearing when the previous bench put questions to senior advocate Kapil Sibal and making it clear that the “allegations” against them were “grave” and warned against bringing “politics” in the matter.
The Bench had said it was not going to be moved by the names of persons and the matter would be treated like that of any ordinary citizen or individual.