The case that has taken activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand to Supreme Court relates to alleged embezzlement of funds amounting to Rs 3.85 crore allegedly received as donations by their trusts.
The FIR lodged on January 4, 2014 records the “date of crime” as “2007 till date” and relates to funds received by Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) for building a memorial at the Gulberg Co-operative Housing Society (GCHS) that saw the worst excesses during the 2002 riots in Gujarat.
The investigations followed a complaint filed by 12 members of GCHS, and led to police levelling several charges, mainly misappropriation amounting to 39.5 per cent of the total Rs 9.7 crore received in donations by the trusts.
The allegations point towards money paid as salaries to Setalvad, her husband and daughter; payment linked to their credit card purchases while shopping abroad; and even for purchase of liquor.
Setalvad, however, had offered clarifications to each charge. Consider these:
Allegation: The couple took Rs 75,26,000 in salaries.
Clarification: Setalvad told the Gujarat HC: “During the period 1.10.2009 – 30.06.2013, I did receive an amount of Rs 21,63,762 from the Sabrang Trust. This was my remuneration of about Rs 48,000 average per month, over a period of 45 months in my capacity as Project Director/Officer-In-Charge of the ‘Peace Building and Conflict Resolution Project’…” She also said her co-applicant Anand received Rs 20,13,075 for the same period for the same project.
Clarification: Setalvad submitted in court that Rs 39,08,380 was received by Sabrang Communications and Publishing between October 2007 and February 2014 for cost-sharing over 83 months for infrastructure and establishment staff costs. It was earlier clarified by Setalvad that the two trusts shared the staff and infrastructure with Sabrang Communications and the latter incurred the expenses for which the two were reimbursed according to a percentage.
Allegation: Rs 1,38,270 paid to Tamara Setalvad, Teesta’s daughter.
Clarification: Teesta submitted that it was given from August 2011 to March 2013 when she worked for the foundation and handled the responsibility of documentation and dissemination of information
Allegation: There were cash withdrawals of Rs 1.08 crore.
Clarification: Setalvad suggested that it was used for petty cash expenses.
Allegation: Rs 29.66 lakh used to reimburse purchases made on the personal credit cards of Setalvad and Anand.
Clarification: The reimbursements were for expenses pertaining to activities of the two trusts and not relating to personal purchases.
Teesta Setalvad told the court, “I submit that all that I have stated above is backed by the detailed accounts as filed with the Income-Tax authorities, the Charity Commissioner and the FCRA Authorities (of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India).”