AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court today rejected the pleas of social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand for defreezing their personal bank accounts and those of their two NGOs in an alleged embezzlement case.
Upholding the verdict of a lower court in this regard, the high court observed that the probe is at a serious point in the alleged case of Gulberg society fund embezzlement. "What is important is not the money but the alleged criminal act related to the money. In this case execution of bond is not a justifiable solution when the investigation is at a serious point," Justice G R Udhvani of the Gujarat High Court said in the order.
"This court records its inability to find any substance in the application (of Setalvad and others) and therefore the decision of a lower court is just and proper and requires no interference (by the high court). Hence, the petitions are dismissed," the HC said.
"According to the court, it is premature to consider as to whether the accounts are to be defreezed at this stage and therefore no question of execution of bond arises at this stage," it said. The bank accounts of Setalvad, Anand and their two NGOs -- Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace -- had been frozen by Crime Branch of Ahmedabad Police last year.
The action came soon after Crime Branch started probing a case in which Setalvad and others are accused of embezzling Rs 1.51 crore collected to convert Gulberg Society -- where 69 people were killed during the post-Godhra riots -- into a 2002 riots museum.
A lower court had last November rejected their pleas seeking defreezing of the bank accounts, observing that the accused had not cooperated with the investigation. Setalvad and Anand later challenged the lower court's order before the high court.
In response to their plea, Crime Branch had in August filed an affidavit before the high court alleging that Setalwad had misused the funds for personal use. Setalvad's advocate Mihir Desai had submitted that Crime Branch ought to have allowed his client to operate her account after signing an appropriate bond, as it is done in other cases of such nature.
Desai also said that the probe agency should have given notice to the account holders prior to seizing or while doing so, but in this case, Crime Branch had not done so.
Setalvad, who pursued the cases related to the riots in various courts, had also sought anticipatory bail from the Supreme Court which granted her temporary protection from arrest pending the hearing.
One of the residents of Gulberg Society, Firoz Khan Pathan, had filed a complaint against Setalvad and others alleging that money was raised to make a museum at Gulberg Society in the memory of those who were killed during the 2002 Gujarat riots, but it had not been utilised for the purpose.