HRD sets up panel to probe allegations against Teesta NGO
Supreme Court last month gave the couple anticipatory bail in a separate case of alleged misappropriation of funds raised for a museum at the site of the Gulberg Society massacre during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The HRD Ministry has set up a committee to examine an allegation that activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand embezzled public money given to their NGO, Sabrang Trust, under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
The Supreme Court last month gave the couple anticipatory bail in a separate case of alleged misappropriation of funds raised for a museum at the site of the Gulberg Society massacre during the 2002 Gujarat riots. The museum was never built, and Setalvad was accused of diverting donations worth Rs 1.5 crore.
Government sources said Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani cleared the setting up of the three-member committee recently. The panel is headed by Supreme Court lawyer Avijit Bhattacharjee, and also includes Syed A Bari, vice-chancellor of the Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, and Gaya Prasad, a director in the ministry.
“I am yet to receive an official communique from the ministry, but I have been told informally that I have been appointed as one of the members of the committee. I suppose we will be able to submit a report in the next two months,” Bari told The Indian Express.
Bari also heads the probe against the vice-chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Prof M Aslam, who faces allegations of administrative irregularities and has been on leave since November.
According to sources, the inquiry against Setalvad and Anand has been instituted on the basis of a complaint by Ahmedabad-based Rais Khan Pathan, a former aide of Setalvad’s who fell out with her several years ago.
The complaint, dated May 9, 2014, reached the Ministry on June 2, 2014, soon after the new central government took charge.
According to Pathan’s complaint, Setalvad’s NGO, Sabrang Trust, had “misutilised” funds, a “serious matter” that needed “immediate inquiry”.
In response to an application filed separately by The Indian Express under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the HRD Ministry has said that Sabrang Trust received Rs 1.39 crore over the last three years under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan — the Government of India’s flagship programme for universal elementary education — for its ‘Khoj’ project in Mumbai. Of this, Sabrang Trust returned Rs 5,91,871 to the Ministry as “unspent balance” on June 12, 2014.
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is run by the HRD Ministry’s Department of School Education and Literacy. Other NGOs which received funds from the UPA government under the programme include organisations run by activist Binayak Sen, and former police officers Kiran Bedi and Amod Kanth.
Source:: Indian Express