Concerning the allegations of embezzlement of funds by Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand by the Gujarat police, presented below are some facts about her organizations and her work-
1) CITIZENS FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE:
Primary Activity: Legal Aid to victims of mass crimes (communalism, terrorism)
- Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) was formed in April 2002 by 11 prominent, law-abiding Mumbaikars, each one of whom had been individually and collectively engaged in building peace and seeking justice in the aftermath of the 1992-’93 communal violence in Mumbai. Noted playwright, late Vijay Tendulkar was the founding President of CJP and remained at that post till his sad demise in May 2008.
- Bearing in mind that the victims of the 1984 communal carnages in Delhi and in Mumbai in 1992-93 had been denied justice, the founding members of CJP resolved to focus their efforts in legal intervention in the courts to ensure Rule of Law and impartial policing. Members of CJP had fought for communal harmony individually or as part of other organizations in past.
- The very first activity of CJP was to set-up a Citizens Tribunal headed by the late Justice VR Krishna Iyer, former justice of the Supreme Court of India. Other members of the Tribunal included former judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice P. B. Sawant and former judge of the Bombay High Court, Justice Hosbet Suresh.
- After its 15-day long fact-finding visit to Gujarat, during which time several hundred people, including survivors of the violence and a minister in the Gujarat government, deposed before the Citizens Tribunal, it released its 3-volume report, ‘Crime Against Humanity’. The major findings of the Citizens Tribunal were similar to the findings of the Union government appointed National Human Rights Commission (NHRC): complicity of the police and other state actors in the mass crimes. Both strongly recommended that in the interest of justice, the Supreme Court orders investigation of the crimes of 2002 by an independent agency from outside Gujarat.
- The reports and recommendations of the NHRC and the Citizens Tribunal have been, and continue to be, the basic reference points for CJP’s legal aid and other activities since 2002.
- Given the context in which it was born, and the limited resources (human and financial) at CJP’s disposal, justice for Gujarat has been the major focus of the Trust’s activities. However, since 2002 CJP has been equally alive to its duty towards victims of mass crimes elsewhere as also in the context of natural disasters resulting in mass suffering. Supported by donations from citizens of Mumbai and elsewhere, CJP organized press conferences/public meetings, raised funds to extend solidarity and relief to the victims of: flash Floods (Maharashtra, July 2005); terror attack on Sankat Mochan Mandir (Varanasi, UP, March 2006): serial bomb blasts in suburban trains in Mumbai (July 2006), massacre of a Dalit family at Khairlanji (Maharashtra, September 2006), petitioned the Andhra High Court over attack on exiled Bangladeshi writer, Taslima Nasreen (August 2007); terror attack in Ahmedabad (July 2008); terror attack on Mumbai (November, 2008); communal violence (Dhule, Maharashtra, 2012); communal violence (Muzaffarnagar, UP, 2012).
- From its inception in April 2002 until March 2009, the activities of CJP were funded entirely through donations from individuals and organizations within India. CJP started receiving foreign donations only from March 2009 onwards after its FCRA registration. The most consistent and substantial foreign contribution to CJP since 2010 has been from the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNVFVT), administered by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva. The annual grants received from UNVFVT are specifically earmarked for Legal Aid to victims of the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat.
From its inception till date, over 70% of the funds received by CJP (including foreign donations) have been raised by the trustees through personal contributions, donations from their family and friends, art auction.
- CJP’s trustees have never been paid even a rupee by way of ‘sitting fees’ or any other remuneration. From 2002 till date, only Teesta Setalvad has been paid an average honorarium of around Rs. 16,000 p.m. as the chief executive of the UNVFVT funded Legal Aid project. This payment has been in accordance with the budget sanctioned by UNVFVT.
- It would not have been possible for CJP to pursue legal cases (in all 68 cases till date) but for the fact that top Supreme Court and Bombay High Court lawyers such as Mr. Kapil Sibal, Mr. Harish Salve, Mr. Anil Divan, Mr. P. R. Rao, Mr. M. S. Ganesh, Mr. Shanti Bhushan, Ms. Kamini Jaiswal, Mr. Sanjay Parikh, Mr. Aspi Chinoy, Mr. Navroze Seervai have offered their legal services pro bono (no fees charged).
–Between 2003 and 2013 the accounts of CJP have been audited annually by a top auditing firm, Messrs. Haribhakti & Co. The current auditors of CJP are an equally reputed firm, Messrs. Sharp & Tannon. In March 2014, the Crime Branch, Ahmedabad police, wrote to Messrs. Haribhakti & Co. seeking the auditor’s responses to specific allegations of misappropriation of CJP’s funds by Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand. Following a re-verification of CJP’s accounts in which its trustees extended full co-operation to the auditors, Haribhakti & Co. reported to the Crime Branch that it had not come across any financial irregularities as alleged by the Gujarat police and that no expenses of a personal nature incurred through their personal credit cards were charged to CJP by Teesta Setalvad or Javed Anand.
CJP has fully co-operated with the Gujarat police in its investigations into the alleged misappropriation of funds by Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand. In addition to documentary evidence annexed to affidavits running into over 1,500 pages submitted to the Gujarat High Court, it has provided over 11,000 pages of cash voucher payments made by CJP and Sabrang Trust (please see below) between 2006 and 2013 to the Crime Branch, Ahmedabad police. In spite of all this, through illegal instructions to the banks, the accounts bank accounts of CJP and Sabrang Trust have been frozen for the last 13 months.
- CJP’s trustees are active participants in all decision making as regards the activities undertaken from time to time, sanctioning of budgets, authorization of payments. It is incorrect to allege that Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand have acted at any time without the knowledge and consent of the other trustees.
- The current trustees of CJP are: Anil Dharker (President), Nandan Maluste (Vice-President), I.M. Kadri, Cyrus Guzder, Alyque Padamsee, Rahul Bose, Cedric Prakash, Shakuntala Kulkarni, Gulam Peshimam, Teesta Setalvad (Secretary), Javed Anand (Financial Officer).
2) SABRANG TRUST
Primary Activity: School Education for a Plural India; Information documentation and dissemination; Advocacy.
- Though formed in 1995, owing to financial constraints, Sabrang Trust has been engaged in significant activities only from 2003 onwards. The major activity of the Trust since then has been running an innovative educational programme (KHOJ-Education for a Plural India) in Municipal Corporation and Zilla Parishad run schools in Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan, Bhiwandi, Nandurbar. Between 2003 and 2009, the KHOJ programme was funded almost entirely by the well-known NGO, Child Rights and You (CRY). The same project was supported by a grant from the HRD Ministry from February 2011 till March 2014. The project is presently continuing with donations from individuals within India.
- The KHOJ project has been well received within India and internationally. Teesta Setalvad, Project Director, has since 2004 been a member of the Central Advisory Board for Education (CABE). CABE is the most important advisory body of the Union government for education.
- The other major activity of Sabrang Trust has comprised of information documentation and dissemination and advocacy work, the primary focus being on celebration and promotion of constitutional values (diversity, pluralism, communal amity, rule of law, impartial policing, accountability of state actors) and combating religious intolerance, hate propaganda, communal violence, terrorism. This project was funded by Ford Foundation, between October 2009 and March 2013.
- Between 2003 and 2014, Teesta Setalvad received an average of Rs.39,000 p.m. as salary/honorarium as remuneration for execution of specific projects of Citizens for Justice and Peace AND Sabrang Trust funded by different donor agencies. During the same period, Javed Anand received an average of Rs. 23,500 p.m. as salary/honorarium as remuneration for execution of specific projects of Citizens for Justice and Peace AND Sabrang Trust funded by different donor agencies.
- Since the massacre of 69 persons on February 28, 2002, the residents of Gulberg Housing Society, Ahmedabad have been living elsewhere and wished to sell off their individual flats/bungalows. As they were being offered prices well below the market prices, in 2007-08 Sabrang Trust mooted the idea of raising funds to buy the properties and set up a ‘Memorial’ to all victims of communal violence at Gulberg Society. Unfortunately, by 2012 the Trust was only able to raise Rs. 4.6 lakh while the fair price of the properties at Gulberg Society in 2007-08 was estimated at around Rs. 3-4 crore. In view of the gross inadequacy of funds raised, in November 2012, Sabrang communicated to the Gulberg Society its inability to proceed with the proposed Memorial. The office bearers of the society informed its members accordingly, asking them to dispose of their property as they thought fit. At no point was any of the property handed over to Sabrang Trust. The earmarked funds for the proposed Memorial are still lying untouched in the Trust’s bank account.
- As in case of CJP, following re-verification of the accounts of Sabrang Trust, the auditors, D. M. Sathe & Co. have also reported back to the Crime Branch that they have not found any financial irregularities and that no expenses of a personal nature incurred through their personal credit cards were charged to Sabrang Trust by Teesta Setalvad or Javed Anand.
The current trustees of Sabrang Trust are: Ravi Kulkarni (solicitor), Nakul Mehta (businessman), Amili Setalvad, Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand.