Just because Arrest would tarnish the applicant’s reputation, the anticipatory bail will not be allowed: Gujarat HC

Team SoOLEGAL 11 Feb 2019 5:00pm

Just because Arrest would tarnish the applicant’s reputation, the anticipatory bail will not be allowed: Gujarat HC

Social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand was granted bail by The Gujarat High Court on Friday in the Rs 1.4 crore alleged fund embezzlement case related to their NGO Sabrang Trust.

Justice JB Pardiwala while granting bail to them advocated for ignoring the reputation of the applicants while deciding the application observing, "The reputation of the applicants in the society as well as being renowned journalists and social activists has nothing to do with the criminal charge of defalcation and misappropriation of the amount of grant.

The grant of anticipatory bail being extraordinary in character, such a prayer should be favourably considered in exceptional cases where it appears that the applicants are falsely implicated or a frivolous case has been launched with a motive to harass them or tarnish their image or reputation and the cases of the like nature."

The court specifically gave its opinion that that anticipatory bail must not be particularly considered only because that due to this arrest their reputation will be spoiled, and that it is the prima facie material that should be accorded weight age. It observed,

"Thus, when a prima facie case is made out from the materials on record relating to the commission of non- bailable offences and there is no material in the record to show or suggest that a false case has been foisted or that the authorities concerned and the Investigating Agencies are vindictive or acting with mala fides, the prayer of the applicants for anticipatory bail cannot and should not be favorably considered merely on the ground that, if arrested, their reputation will be at stake."

Therefore the court then accepted the application filed by the duo and directed them that they must appear before the Investigating Officer on February 15, for further investigation. Both of them had to furnish a personel bond of Rs.1 lakh with one surety each of the like amount only then they will be released.

Raees Khan Pathan, a former aide of Setalvad filed an FIR against the activist couple on 30th March last year. He mentioned in his FIR that to pay witnesses the activist couple misused to make false deposition in some of the post-Godhra riot cases of 2002.

The Gujarat Police in its earlier submission had mentioned that the HRD Ministry had provided Rs.1.4crore between 2010 and 2013 to their NGO for a scheme under the SarvaShikshaAbhiyan. As per the information received by the police, the couple had misused these funds, which were supposed to be used for education, just to achieve their "personal and political cause". This leads to them being booked under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

They had then moved their plea to grant anticipatory bail to the the high court in May last year after a lower court rejected their anticipatory bail plea in the case. They also questioned Mr.Pathan's intention in filing the complaint in their plea. However, the court did not allow any such contentions, by giving their opinion that there was prima facie material indicating grant was fraudulently obtained.

As for the demand that their reputation be given some consideration, the court observed, "I am also not impressed by the submission that as the applicants are journalists and social activists and are recipient of prestigious awards, they should be granted anticipatory bail as their arrest may tarnish their reputation in the society… …the prominence or the reputation of the applicants in the Society strenuously canvassed in this case should not be allowed to overshadow the considerations of prima facie case and the likelihood of the investigation being adversely affected by pre-arrest bail."

The court, though gave their opinion that court needs to take a balanced view, respecting individual liberty while allowing the investigation to take its course simultaneously. The bail application was, therefore, allowed, with the court asserting that it was inclined to give them "one last chance" to join the investigation and cooperate with the Investigating Officer.

Tagged: Gujarat HC   arrest   anticipatory bail  
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