Teesta Setalvad records statement before CBI in FCRA violation case

Activist Teesta Setalvad on Monday recorded her statement before the CBI in connection with a case against her firm for allegedly receiving around USD 2.9 lakh in foreign donations in violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

PTI| Updated: Jul 20, 2015, 16:59 PM IST

Mumbai: Activist Teesta Setalvad on Monday recorded her statement before the CBI in connection with a case against her firm for allegedly receiving around USD 2.9 lakh in foreign donations in violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

She had been asked by a local court to appear before the central agency by Tuesday as on Friday special CBI Judge Anis Khan had reserved an order on the anticipatory bail applications filed by Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand till tomorrow while granting them interim protection from arrest.

The CBI, which registered a case on July 8 against Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Limited, has alleged that SCPPL was not registered under FCRA for collecting money from abroad and the amount of nearly Rs 1.8 crore (2.9 USD) was, therefore, received in violation of the Act as the organisation needed to seek prior approval of the Union Home Ministry.

The CBI sleuths searched four places including premises owned by Setalvad, Anand, an associate Gulam Mohammed Peshimam and the office of SCPPL on July 14.

The probe agency had opposed the bail plea contending the motive behind the transfer of foreign contribution to SCPPL reflected "interference towards the internal security and activities of India" and also contested Setalvad's claim that the money received was a fee for consultancy.

"During the search, an agreement dated September 22, 2006 between Ford Foundation (a US-based NGO) and SCPPL was seized which clearly showed that the remittances were grants. There is no mention of any 'consultancy' therein," the CBI told the court.

The CBI, which is probing the firm's accounts from 2004 to 2014, claimed to have recovered documents showing that the money received from the Ford Foundation had not been cleared by the Home Ministry.

Setalvad, during the July 14 searches by CBI, had termed the action by the probe agency as a" shameful political vendetta".

"The Zakia Jafri case begins its final hearings on July 27 2015. The Naroda Patiya appeals (Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi) are being heard in the Gujarat High Court tomorrow. This is nothing but a bid to subvert the cause of public justice and ensure that no justice happens in these cases," she had said in a statement. Kodnani was a minister in the Gujarat government under Narendra Modi and Bajrangi is a notorious Hindu right wing activist.

According to the rules, an organisation or a private firm

can accept donations from overseas only if it has FCRA registration. The donation was, therefore, a "serious violation" of FCRA provisions, the Home Ministry had said while ordering a CBI probe.

A bank account of the firm located in Juhu, Mumbai, had also been frozen under instructions from the Ministry.

The Gujarat government had asked the Home Ministry to take action against Ford Foundation, alleging that the US-based organisation was "interfering in internal affairs" of the country and also "abetting communal disharmony" through an NGO run by Setalvad. The Home Ministry had forwarded the complaint to the CBI, which then filed the case after verification.

In April, the government had ordered that funds from Ford Foundation should not be released by any bank to an Indian NGO without mandatory permission from the Home Ministry.

Setalvad and the Gujarat government have been locked in several legal tussles since the post-Godhra riots of 2002. While she has filed many cases against government functionaries in connection with the riots, the state police have filed a case of alleged embezzlement of funds against her over promised construction of a memorial to the victims of the communal carnage.