Teesta Setalvad `siphoned off` Rs 3.85 crore from NGO funds: Gujarat Police to Supreme Court

Seeking custodial interrogation of the couple, the Gujarat Police also rejected Teesta Setalvad's claim that lawyers fought most of the 2002 Gujarat riot-related cases for free.

Teesta Setalvad `siphoned off` Rs 3.85 crore from NGO funds: Gujarat Police to Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Gujarat Police has claimed before the Supreme Court that social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand "siphoned off" Rs 3.85 crore for "personal use" from the Rs 9.75 crore donations received by their NGOs - Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace - for the welfare of the 2002 riot victims.

The Gujarat Police, in an 83-page affidavit, said it has collected documentary evidence in this regard.

According to The Times of India, Assistant Commissioner of Police Rahul B Patel in the affidavit gave the details of non-cooperation by Setalvad, her husband and their trusts in furnishing documents required to probe into the complaints made by riots victims at Gulbarg Society that the couple did not deliver as per promise once the donations inflated. Notably, the Gulbarg Society had witnessed one of the worst carnage during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

After looking into bank accounts of the couple and their two trusts from 2007 till 2014, the Gujarat Police informed the SC that Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace received total foreign and domestic donations of Rs 9.75 crore during this period.

It further alleged that the couple "siphoned off" Rs 3.85 crore for personal expenses.

The daily quoted the police as saying that the couple opened two accounts in United Bank of India, Mumbai, on January 01, 2001. No deposits were made in the accounts till December 31, 2002. However, from January 2003-December 2013, Anand put in Rs 96.43 lakh and Setalvad deposited Rs 1.53 crore in their accounts, said the daily.

The police further said that Setalvad and Anand also `drew money for their personal use from the Rs 1.40 crore grant given by the HRD Ministry from February 2011 to July 2012`. The police said it knew about only three accounts of CJP and Sabrang Trust initially. "As soon as these three accounts were seized on January 23, 2014, the couple immediately transferred Rs 24.5 lakh and Rs 11.5 lakh from the other two accounts of Sabrang Trust, unknown to the investigation authority, by way of demand drafts on a single day," it said.

The police accused the couple of hiding from the apex court as well as high courts that "after the seizure of the accounts by police, they opened two separate accounts of Sabrang Trust, namely Sabrang Trust General account and Sabrang Trust HRD account in another bank".

"Prior to 2007, there was a negligible receipt in the accounts of CJP and Sabrang Trust. It is only after the applicant-accused, through their websites, newsletters, interviews, CDs etc expressed an urgent need for funds to save and rehabilitate riot victims and set up a 'Museum of Resistance' that donations from all over the world started pouring into these accounts," the police alleged.

Seeking custodial interrogation of the couple, they also rejected Setalvad's claim that lawyers fought most of the riot-related cases free of cost.

"It is revealed that more than Rs 71.40 lakh was paid to different advocates as legal fees," the police alleged.

"They have calculatingly misappropriated trusts' huge funds and pocketed in their personal accounts."

The couple moved the SC challenging the February 12 Gujarat High Court verdict declining them anticipatory bail in the alleged misuse of funds case.