CBI Mis-reporting on Search: Teesta Setalvad

We reproduce below the full statement (partially reported in the newspapers) from Teesta Setalvad on the CBI search at her office premises regarding the continuous misreporting that was going on during the search: 

As I write this, the search is still not concluded. It is shocking that while over a dozen members of the CBI are still in our premises conducting the search, Delhi spokesperson is misleading the public and our vast supporters by a series of misinformations and official tweets.

In our view, and we repeat no laws have been broken by us. This is a continuation of the persecution and witchhunt first launched by the Gujarat police in 2014 then under the dispensation that rules Delhi. The CBI has taken the same documents that we had voluntarily on inspection given the MHA (FCRA dept). Over 25,000 pages of documentary evidence has been given to the Gujarat Police. When they could not succeed with the bizarre and desperate attempts to gain custody (February 2015), it was the Gujarat Government Home Department that wrote to the MHA and the current round of the persecutions began.

Its is shameful political vendetta. The Zakia Jafri case begins its final hearings on July 27 2015. The Naroda Patiya appeals (Kodnani and Bajrangi) are being heard in the Gujarat High Court tomorrow. This is nothing but a bid to subvert the cause of public justice and ensure that no justice happens in these cases.

We had written to the CBI offering full cooperation. The so called offences relate to documentary evidence. This search is nothing but an attempt to intimidate and humiliate. India should be ashamed that when scams like Vyapam are happening, over 50 persons dying, witnesses in Asaram Bapu case are dying; CBI is not appealing in critical cases related to crimes by politicians; the agency is being unleashed on human rights defenders standing up for the rights of Survivors of Mass Violence. It is worse than the British Raj. Pathetic

I repeat Sabrang Communications has broken no law(s). One: Section 3 of FCRA, 2010 bars certain ‘persons’ (political parties and its office bearers, government servants and those associated with registered newspapers and those involved in the production and broadcast of news) from receiving foreign donations. However, the very next section, Section 4 which is subtitled ‘Persons to whom section 3 shall not apply’ states: “Nothing contained in section 3 shall apply to the acceptance, by any person specified 3 in that section, of any foreign contribution where such contribution is accepted by him, subject to the provisions of section 10 (a) by way of salary, wages or other remuneration due to him or to any group of persons working under him, from any foreign source or by way of payment in the ordinary course of business transacted in India by such foreign source;”
Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt. Ltd Co. which published the monthly Communalism Combat signed a Consultancy Agreement with Ford Foundation in 2004 and 2006 “to address the issues of caste and communalism” through a clearly defined set of activities which had nothing whatsoever to do with Communalism Combat or remuneration to Javed Anand or Teesta Setalvad towards discharging editorial/managerial functions. The Consultancy was signed by Sabrang Communications only after advice from eminent legal counsel that such an agreement was covered under the exclusion stipulated under Section 4 of the Act and therefore the consultancy fees (not grant or donation) received would not be in violation of FCRA 2010. Ford Foundation in fact deducted TDS with every installment of consultancy fees it paid to Sabrang Communications. The activities undertaken and the expenses incurred were in accordance with the agreement. Activities and Financial Reports were submitted annual to the satisfaction of Ford Foundation.
Two, Sabrang has kept records and provided copies of the same to the FCRA during the inspection visit of FCRA team in Mumbai on June 9 and 10, 2015, Additional documents as required were also posted to FCRA department.
Three: Deliberately or otherwise, the FCRA team is confusing the well- known lobbying that is part of the political process in the USA with advocacy initiatives whereby NGOs, civil society activists engage with the government of the day to draw their attention towards the legitimate issues of women, children, dalits, religious or linguistic or sexual minorities, differently-abled persons etc. It is ridiculous to equate such advocacy initiatives with lobbying. Sabrang Communications therefore denies all the allegations.
Four: While believing in the rule of law and due process, we believe that the State has innumerable devices at its disposal to simply throttle dissent, intimidate and through these crass techniques try to ensure coercive compliance.

For public record, reproduced below is also the copy of a letter written by Javed Anand to the CBI on 30 June, which puts on record the past history of the so-called inquiry:

June 30, 2015

To,

Shri Rajiv Sharma

Joint Director, Central Bureau of lnvestigation (CBI)

Plot No 5-8, 10th Floor, B-Wing,

CGO Complex, New Delhi-110003

Sir,

Reference: News Reports of MHA Directed Inquiry into Sabrang Communications and Publishing Private Limited, Mumbai

This is with reference to newspaper reports about the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) directed lnquiry into Sabrang Communications and Publishing Private Limited, Mumbai. While assuring the Central Bureau of lnvestigation (CBI) our fullest cooperation in any bonafide inquiry/investigation, we would like to request that sufficient notice be provided to us/our representative(s) to be available with all required documentation for the purpose.

Meanwhile, we wish to draw your attention to the following:

In April 2015, Sabrang Communications received a letter from the FCRA department to which we replied and documents totaling 42 pages. A copy of our response dated April 27, 2015 is attached (Pgs 1-3). Subsequent to this, a detailed inspection of documents and records was made by the FCRA team (MHA) on June 8 and 9, 2015 at our Mumbai office. All documents sought were provided to the inspection team. (A copy of the index of documents provided is attached (pgs. 4-9). We produced original documents and submitted copies of the documents asked for, totaling 185 pages. These included the following:

(i) Consultancy project proposal with budget, (consultancy agreement already submitted to FCRA department), annual Narrative and Financial Reports

submitted by SCPPL to Ford Foundation for the consultancy period 2006-09 (pages 1-72).

(ii) True copy of resolution passed by Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), concerning transfer of employees of SCPPL to CJP with effect from April 1, 2013 (pages 73-79).

(iii) Photocopies of specific vouchers as asked for by inspection team (pages 80-81).

(iv) Printouts from Tally of Bank Book of SCPPL, IDBl a/c no 0142016034300, as asked for by inspection team (pages 82-122).

(v) Printouts from Tally of Bank Book of SCPPL, UBI a/c no 369104010029194) as asked for by inspection team (pages 123-157).

(vi) Copy of temporary cash loan of Rs.10,000 to CJP (domestic account) from petty cash box (page 158).

(vii) Printouts from Tally accounts of SCPPL and CJP (FCRA) for payments by CJP (FCRA) to SCPPL towards shared office/office space/staff expenses for the period 2009-10 to 2014-15 (pages 159-165).

(viii) Printouts from Tally accounts of SCPPL and Sabrang Trust (FCRA) for payments by Sabrang Trust (FCRA) to SCPPL towards shared office/office space/staff expenses for the period 2009-10 to 2014-15 (pages 159-165).

(ix) Copy of declaration provided by Teesta Setalvad to FCRA inspection team during the latter’s inspection of CJP’s records in April 2015 (pages 166-181).

Following the inspection, the FCRA team issued us an ‘inspection memo’ to which we have replied. A copy of the inspection memo dated June 9, 2015 and our reply are attached (Pgs.10-17)

We would also wish to make known that we are already subject to what we believe, is a malicious investigation at the hands of the Gujarat police, on the registration of an innocuous FIR against two Trustees of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and Sabrang Trust, consequent to which we have been subject to a thorough financial examination on various relevant and irrelevant issues. That matter is currently pending in the Supreme Court of India. We have reasons to believe that the inspections following notices by the FCRA department of the (FCRA) department were also at the instance of the Gujarat Government’s Home Department and are part and parcel of this continued action, since no discrepancies and violations could be found through the entire Gujarat Police Crime Branch investigations.

Kindly let us know if you would like us to provide to you all the documents which we had attached with the above mentioned letter and also those provided by us to FCRA’s inspection team. Since we have not so far had any communication from the MHA or any CBI officer concerning the investigation referred to in news reports, we are not sure as to which appropriate authority/officer from the CBI our communications hereafter should be directed. Kindly advise.

Thanking you.

Yours sincerely,

Javed Anand

Director

Nirant, Juhu Tara Road,
Juhu, Mumbai – 400049

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