SC dismisses Teesta's plea to defreeze accounts

SC dismisses Teesta's plea to defreeze accounts

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea by activist Teesta Setalvad and others for defreezing nine bank accounts of her, husband Javed Anand and two NGOs run by her. It, however, said she can seek relief on completion of investigation into a  2014 FIR pertaining to misappropriation of funds.

"Indisputably, the investigation is still in progress. The suspicion entertained by the investigating agency as to how the appellants appropriated huge funds, which in fact were meant to be disbursed to the victims of 2002 riots, will have to be explained by them," a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice K M Khanwilkar said.

Nine bank accounts of Teesta, Anand and their two NGOs - Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace - were frozen by the Crime Branch of Ahmedabad Police on January 21, 2014 during a probe into allegations 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.

The petitioners contended no donor has made a complaint on it while the police, on a representation by the members of Gulberg Co-Operative Housing Society, froze the accounts, without issuing any notice.

"There is nothing in Section 102 of the Criminal Procedure Code which mandates giving prior notice to the account holder before seizure of bank account," the court said. With regard to explanations on discrepancies pointed out by the police, the court said these could be a matter of defence by them during the trial.

The Gujarat High Court had in October, 2015 dismissed their pleas for defreezing the bank accounts, and upheld the lower court order which observed that the accused had not cooperated with the investigation.

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