This Press Release specifically counters the malicious lies in the Affidavit in Sur-Rejoinder filed by KN Patel, IO Crime Branch for the Respondent State of Gujarat dated 18.03.2014 in Ahmedabad (and replicated with few changes in Mumbai dated 19.03.2014). For those newspapers/publications that published screaming headlines of us misusing funds, without contacting any office bearers for clarifications, we appeal in the interests of both fair and independent journalism and basic honesty to print this Rebuttal with the same enthusiasm and prominence.
In a counter affidavit filed by her in the Sessions Court in Ahmedabad on March 21, 2014, in response to the affidavit in sur-rejoinder filed by the Gujarat police, Teesta Setalvad, Secretary, Citizens for Justice and Peace, has accused the Gujarat police of once again resorting to blatant falsehoods, twisted facts, deliberate jugglery of accounts and foul innuendos, with the malicious intent of colouring the public discourse and prejudice the public mind. What is most shocking is the brazen manner in which the Gujarat police continue to spread falsehoods through signed affidavits, indicating callous disregard of the justice process. This is nothing short of perjury.
It is evident from the affidavits filed by the Gujarat police that they are in full possession of all our audited accounts, bank accounts (organizational and personal) and personal credit card bills. All of these have been obtained through highly questionable means, which itself is a subject for investigation. That apart, the foul intent and malice of the Gujarat police is more than evident from the fact that despite being in possession of dubiously acquired information it continues to heap falsehood upon falsehood.
In its affidavit in sur-rejoinder, the Gujarat police have claimed that a host of expenses of a purely personal nature incurred through the personal credit card bills of Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand were paid by Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and Sabrang Trust. The police cannot but know that this is a blatant lie. All it needed to do to know the facts of the case was to tally the total expenses as shown in the credit card bills with the amounts “reimbursed” to them by the two trusts. They have deliberately manipulated credit card details from the personal accounts of both, paid from their independent personal incomes as expenses incurred by them from public money.
Neither CJP nor Sabrang Trust has any debit/credit cards in their respective names. For logistical convenience, with the full knowledge and consent of the trustees and auditors of the two trusts, air and train tickets are frequently booked online (using the personal credit cards of Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand). It is only such expenses strictly related to the legitimate activities which are reimbursed by Sabrang Trust and CJP after due verification. Despite being fully aware of this fact, the Gujarat police have claimed, with obvious dubious motive, that a host of personal expenses, including hair-cuts, purchase of grocery, shoes, jewellery etc. have been paid for by the trusts.
Such expenses met out of public funds should “shock the conscience of the court”, claims the sur-rejoinder. If anything, it is the blatant lies on oath repeatedly indulged by the police that should stir the conscience of court.
CJP and Sabrang Trust emphatically and categorically deny the claim made in the affidavit in sur-rejoinder that cash withdrawals from the two trusts totalling Rs. 75,28,000 (over many years) have been siphoned off or pocketed by Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand. That this too is an entirely baseless allegation can be established through the accounts books and cash vouchers of both CJP and Sabrang Trust.
Similarly, the sur-rejoinder claims that funds from the bank accounts of CJP and Sabrang Trust running into lakhs have been transferred into fixed deposits in the “family personal names” of Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand. CJP and Sabrang Trust challenge the Gujarat police to provide evidence of even a single rupee thus transferred from the bank accounts of either of the two trusts into fixed deposits in personal names. Instead, the Gujarat police, functioning in nexus with one family of the Gulberg society and a former employee of CJP cited as “witness” in the specious FIR, is functioning at the behest of the political bigwigs in the state who are seriously affected by the persistent struggle for justice aided by CJP.
On one hand, the sur-rejoinder rubbishes the contention that all the amounts paid by CJP and Sabrang Trust to Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt. Ltd. were towards shared-costs of repair and maintenance expenses of office space and office equipment and shared staff. On the other hand, the Gujarat police claims to have made the “discovery” that the registered offices of all the three organizations—Nirant, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu, Mumbai- 400049) are the same! The simple point that the issue of shared costs would simply not arise if the three organizations had three different and separate office space, office equipments and staff (both administrative and technical/project staff), has escaped the Gujarat police.
The sur-rejoinder reiterates that only Rs. 2.49 lakh was spent on Legal Aid expenses. We challenge the Gujarat police to provide proof of this totally bogus claim. CJP has spent over Rs. 2 crore (nearly hundred times the police claim) on Legal Aid to the victims-survivors of the state-sponsored Gujarat pogrom and this can easily be established through accounts books, voucher files and annually audited accounts. This deliberate underestimation is deliberate and meant to prejudice the public mind.
In its rejoinder the Gujarat police also baselessly claims that we have admitted many of its claims of having transferred crores of funds from the public trusts to our personal accounts. We emphatically and categorically deny having made any such admissions, except to the extent of remunerations for performing specific duties and responsibilities as per Board resolutions of CJP and Sabrang Trust and reimbursements towards expenses incurred on legitimate activities of the two trusts. The campaign launched by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch against the CJP and its Trustees is aimed at crippling the struggle for justice and at maligning and defaming honest, hard working activists in the public domain.
CJP believes that strong action needs to be launched against the falsehoods made on oath as also the coercively manner in which accounting details were obtained. Publications that irresponsibly published a one sided picture without even attempting any clarifications from us are also guilty of defamation and libel for which suitable action will be taken.
Attached is a copy of the Affidavit in Reply to the Sur-rejoinder filed in the Ahmedabad Sessions Court today.
Ghulam Pesh Imam