NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed till Friday the arrest of social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband soon after the Gujarat High Court rejected their anticipatory bail plea in a case of alleged embezzlement of funds for a museum at Gulbarg society, destroyed in the 2002 riots.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand would be protected from the arrest till the matter is heard on Friday.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal said the couple’s arrest was imminent once the Gujarat High Court rejects their anticipatory bail.
“This is an extraordinary situation and therefore should be heard urgently,” Sibal said. He added that the police were waiting right outside their residence.
The Bench said the appeal against the High Court decision could be filed in the course of the day.
The couple rushed to the apex court within an hour after the High Court dismissed their plea for a stay on its order to allow them time to move the Supreme Court.
The Gujarat High Court observed that Setalvad was not cooperating in the probe and “they cannot be armoured with full fledged anticipatory bail when the applicant did not cooperate with the ongoing investigation.”
Setalvad and her husband, Javed Anand, have been booked by the Gujarat Police Crime Branch on charges of cheating, breach of trust and under the IT Act, in a matter relating to the construction of Museum of Resistance in the Gulbarg society in Ahmedabad, which was hit by communal riots in 2002.
One of the riot victims from Gulbarg housing society, which was burnt during the 2002 post Godhra riots, had lodged a complaint with the Ahmedabad Police against Setalvad, Anand and two non govermental organisations run by them - Citizens for Justice and Peace and Sabrang Trust, alleging misappropriation of funds to the tune of `1.51 crore.
The accused had contended that they have been implicated in the case and were victims of political vendetta.
The couple claimed that they were being targeted by the perpetrators of the riots.
The High Court in its order had maintained that their custodial interrogation was in public interest and in the interest of justice and said that Setalvad had filed the pre-arrest bail plea just to avoid custodial interrogation.
“The applicant has never cooperated with the probe and whenever she was called for questioning, she insisted that the police ask her everything in writing and also maintained that she had said everything in her affidavits before the sessions court,” the Gujarat High Court said.