Sabrang Communications denies ‘motivated allegations’ by CBI

By TCN News,

Mumbai: Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt. Ltd. (SCPPL) has once again denied the CBI’s allegations of it having violated provisions of the FCRA Act, of submitting a report to Ford Foundation which was “derogatory, detrimental to the national interests and communal harmony”, and of not cooperating with the CBI in its investigations in the same matter. Further it is denied that any offence under the FCRA was at committed.

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The CBI claims to have seized incriminating documents which according to them establish that SCPPL received ‘foreign contribution’ from Ford Foundation without permission from the Union Home Ministry. Apart from other documentary evidence, SCPPL also relies on the very same documents, to maintain that it did not receive ‘foreign contribution’ (grant) but payment towards a ‘consultancy agreement’ with Ford Foundation. The payment it received from Ford Foundation after TDS deductions was towards the design and execution of the consultancy project with clearly specified activities to be undertaken and was therefore outside the purview of the FCRA Act, SCPPL claims.

As to the CBI’s allegations about SCPPL having engaged in activities which were “derogatory, detrimental to the national interests and communal harmony”, in its order granting anticipatory bail to Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand, the Bombay High Court has ruled: “In a democratic state, a citizen has the right to have different ideology, belief and different point of view and it is the duty of the state to protect the said right to have freedom of expression of the same. A dissenting view or expression cannot be always said to be against sovereignty of the nation. The terms ‘against the nation’ and ‘against the government’ are two different terms”.

As to the allegation about non-cooperation the facts of the case are as follows:

The Bombay High Court order granted anticipatory bail to Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand on August 11, 2015. The CBI filed a Special Leave Petition in September 2015, appealing against the high court order. This was hurriedly clubbed to the other matter against Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand by the Crime Branch of the Gujarat police. On October 14, 2015, the Supreme Court granted protection against arrest to Teesta and Javed until December 5, 2015.

On November 2, 2015, both received for the first and the only time a notice from the Mumbai-based CBI officer investigating the case, Inspector Suchit Raul, asking for certain documents to be produced before him by November 16, 2015. On November 16, Javed Anand went to the CBI office in Mumbai to submit documents running into several thousand pages before DySP B. M. Chonkar who has replaced Inspector Raul as the Investigation Officer. A covering later explained why in case of some documents true copies were being submitted instead of original documents. When Chonkar insisted on original documents, Javed Anand agreed to do so and asked for some time. On the morning of November 26, Javed Anand called the CBI (Economic Offences Wing) office to say documents running into over 13,600 (of which over 10,000 were originals) were ready for submission that day, he was informed that the documents could only be accepted by Chonkar who was out of station. He was further informed that a date for submission would be communicated to him on Chonkar’s return to Mumbai.

The above facts have been placed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the form of an affidavit on November 27, 2015, SCPPL claims. It also says that Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand have fully complied with the requirements detailed in the first and only notice issued to them by CBI on November 2, 2015 and the allegation of non co-operation therefore is “far from the truth”.