MUMBAI, December 17, 2015
Social activist Teesta Setalvad has questioned the legality of the CBI procuring warrants from lower courts for ‘raid’on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s office. She has called this overstepping the law which states that enforcement agencies can conduct searches only if there is evidence of non-cooperation.
Ms Setalvad said the CBI used similar methods when the agency conducted searches at her Juhu bungalow Nirant for 22 hours on July 14-15 in connection with alleged violations of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. She and her husband Javed Anand have challenged the legality of the CBI procedure before the Metropolitan Magistrate at Esplanade Court in south Mumbai from which the CBI obtained the orders.
Ms Setalvad said enforcement agencies have the right to conduct raids and obtain search warrants from courts, but there is a process laid down under section 91 and 93 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
“Raids can be conducted if a person is a hardened criminal or he is not cooperating with the investigation. We are a democratic country, not a police state. You cannot just raid a premise without following the process. This is what we have challenged in our case before the same magistrate who issued the warrant.”
In her petition before the court, Ms Setalvad argues that the ‘search warrant is an extreme step warranted only and only when non-cooperation is seen or observed’ and is an ‘abuse of the process of law’. She said she and her husband had voluntarily given over 25,000 documents to the Gujarat police and the Ministry of Home Affairs’ FCRA division in connection with the allegations.
Two weeks before the raids on her house, on June 30, 2015, Ms Setalvad had written to then CBI Joint Director Rajeev Sharma giving a list of documents submitted to the FCRA division, and offered cooperation for a lawful investigation. However, instead of responding to her communication, the CBI chose to search their office and residence with a desire ‘to victimise and intimidate them’, the petition says.
“The power to issue a search warrant is a statutory power and must subserve and not override the constitutional right to privacy and dignity and the due process of law,” it adds. “Instead of responding to citizens who were offering to cooperate in a civilised manner, the CBI, following political diktats, simply raided us as a form of intimidation and humiliation,” she said.
The Gujarat police had in January 2014 filed an FIR accusing the couple of having embezzled funds collected for construction of a memorial.
The CBI used similar methods when it conducted searches at her Juhu bungalow on July 14-15, she says
(A Hindu report)