20, Mar 2015 | Mahesh Trivedi
The interim protection against arrest will continue till the larger bench takes up the matter, the apex court said
Mahesh Trivedi / 20 March 2015
Ahmedabad — Even as the Supreme Court on Thursday extended the stay on the arrest of social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband in a Rs 15-million Ahmedabad embezzlement case and referred her anticipatory bail plea to a larger bench, the Gujarat government rewarded two lawyers who have fought cases against Setalvad.
The interim protection against arrest will continue till the larger bench takes up the matter, the apex court said.
The two activists have been accused of diverting funds meant for a museum project in Ahmedabad in memory of victims of the 2002 communal riots. While referring the matter to a larger bench, the court said that among the issues that needed to be discussed included supremacy of law, value of liberty, concept of regulated liberty, anticipatory bail and issue of non-cooperation during investigation by the accused.
The court had on February 19 reserved its order on the anticipatory bail plea of Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand, both former journalists of mainstream newspapers, who had challenged the Gujarat High Court order denying them the relief.
Hours after the High Court had denied them the bail, the duo had moved the apex court.
Setalvad and Anand have been booked by the Ahmedabad police on charges of cheating, breach of trust and under the IT Act, in a matter relating to the construction of a museum in the Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad which was attacked during communal riots in 2002.
On February 28, 2002, in the aftermath of the Godhra train burning incident, armed rioters had swooped on the Gulbarg Society and killed 69 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri.
One of the riot victims from the Gulbarg Society, which was burnt during the 2002 post-Godhra riots, had lodged a complaint with the Ahmedabad police against Setalvad, Anand and two NGOs run by them — the Citizens for Justice and Peace and the Sabrang Trust — alleging misappropriation of funds to the tune of Rs15 million.
Only on Wednesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party-controlled Gujarat government appointed advocate Manisha Shah as government pleader and advocate Mitesh Amin as public prosecutor to conduct matters in the Gujarat high court.
Legal eagles in Ahmedabad see the twin appointments as the government reward given to the two ‘faithful’ advocates.
Shah represented Rais Khan, who wanted to implicate Setalvad, his former employer, in different criminal cases. She also represented one of the accused cops in a fake encounter case. Criminal lawyer Amin has represented BJP president Amit Shah and many accused cops in fake encounter cases. He is also representing 61 accused in the Gulbarg Society massacre case.
***This Article was originally published by Khaleej Times. It can be found here.