MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Tuesday granted anticipatory bail to activistTeesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand. In the event of their arrest, they should be released on a bail of Rs 20,000 each and sureties of the same amount said Justice Mridula Bhatkar. The HC rejected CBI’s plea for custodial interogation. The court has asked the couple to attend the CBI office for investigation purposes whenever called and inform it when they leave Mumbai.
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The court also sent a mesaage about tolerating dissent. “A dissenting view may be against the policy of the government but it need not be against the sovereignty of the nation,” said Justice Bhatkar adding that it was the government’s duty to protect dissenting views. The HC did not agree that the case revealed a threat to national security though it said that prima facie there may be a violation of the law.
The CBI is investigating allegations that the couple violated the FCRA regulations for receiving $ 2,90,000 from Ford Foundation between 2004 and 2008, without prior permission from the Centre. The case was registered following a complaint from the Gujarat government.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh oppposed the application saying the couple had violated the laws and were a threat to national safety and security. Singh also insisted that the custodial interrogation was necessary as the couple was not cooperating with the CBI and only they could explain how the funds were used.
Senior advocate Aspi Chinoy and advocate Mihir Desai, counsel for Teesta and Anand claimed that they have not violated any rules. At the most it is a case of different interpretations of the law, said the advocates. They said that the Ford Foundation money was not a donation but a payment for consultancy services and therefore does not come under FCRA rules. The advocates said that the couple had submitted all the bank accounts and ledgers from 2004 and were ready to resubmit it.