A few days after the Gujarat police booked social activist Teesta Setalvad and others on charges of cheating and breach of trust, the Bombay High Court on Friday granted interim relief to her and her husband Javed Anand for three weeks.
The duo had filed an application for anticipatory bail on January 8, soon after the Gujarat Police filed an FIR (First Information Report) allegedly at the behest of a former resident of Gulbarg society who claimed that Ms Setalvad, Mr Anand, Tanvir Jafri and two others had embezzled funds to the tune of Rs 1.5 crores which were meant for the construction of a memorial of 2002 riot victims at Gulberg society in Ahmedabad.
The application filed by the duo pleaded that the FIR was filed with malafide intent. "The FIR is a malafide action of the Crime Branch, Ahmedabad, to intimidate a human rights defender. This is the fifth time that a false criminal case has been lodged since 2004 because of my and my organisation's consistent legal support to the victims of 2002 riots," the bail application stated.
The applicants alleged that the FIR was the latest effort of intimidation by the "powerful forces in Gujarat who wish(ed) to stymie the appeal in the Zakia Jafri case".
The Bombay High Court observed on Friday that the social activist had been falsely implicated in the past as well. Justice Mridula Bhatkar then granted interim relief of three weeks to Ms Setalvad and her husband.
According to the FIR, the office-bearers of Ms Setalvad's NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace, and portal Sabrang have been booked under sections 438 of Criminal Procedure Code, 72(A) of Information Technology Act, and 406, 420 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code.