NEW DELHI: A Supreme Court Bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel on Thursday reserved its judgment on social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband’s plea for anticipatory bail even as it directed Gujarat Police not to arrest the couple in a case of alleged embezzlement of funds for a museum, at Ahmedabad’s Gulbarg Society that was devastated in the anti-Muslim riots of 2002. Pronouncing the order, the court stressed that the liberty of a person was paramount and could not be curtailed.
According to the apex court, Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand would provide all necessary documents, vouchers and the list of donors to NGOs Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace to Gujarat Police.
The court added that any failure to cooperate with the probe would give liberty to Gujarat Police to seek cancellation of the couple’s bail.
Earlier, the two-hour-long hearing began with the Bench questioning Gujarat Police on the need for custodial interrogation. “Why should these people (Setalvad and her husband) be taken into custody,” the Bench asked Mahesh Jethmalani, who said there was complaint of cheating, criminal breach of trust, forgery and Section 72 A of the Information Technology Act, besides rank non-cooperation and tampering with the witness. “We have given them maximum opportunity to come for interrogation,” Jethmalani said.
The hearing also saw heated exchange of words between Setalvad’s counsel Kapil Sibal and the Bench. Sibal, took the liberty to say that the Gujarat government should ask for documents instead of going for custodial interrogation.
On this, the Bench said, “Don’t act smart Mr Sibal. You provide all the documents. You also provide the list of donors.” “I have never played smart with the judges in my 42-year-long career,” Sibal shot back, adding, “Whatever documents they ask me, I will give them in one week.”