|Full name||Teesta Atul Setalvad
|Profession(s)||Journalist, Civil Rights Activist|
|Famous for||Filing litigations against the Gujarat government's alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots|
|Awards, Honours||• Journalism for Human Rights Award by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (1993)
• Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Women Mediaperson by The Media Foundation (1993)
• Hakim Khan Sur Award by Maharana Mewar Foundation (1999)
• Human Rights Award by the Dalit Liberation Education Trust (2000)
• Pax Christi International Peace Award by Evangelical group (2001)
• Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award by the Indian National Congress (2002)
• Nuremberg International Human Rights Award for Social Activism by Germany (2003)
• Defender of Democracy Award by Parliamentarians for Global Action (2004)
• M.A. Thomas National Human Rights Award by Vigil India Movement (2004)
• Nani A Palkhivala Award by TATA Group (2006)
• Matoshree Bhimabai Ambedkar Award by Sambodhi Pratishthan of Satara (2007)
• Padma Shri for Public Affairs by the Government of India (2007)
• FIMA Excellence Award by the Federation of Indian Muslim Associations in Kuwait (2009)
|Date of Birth||9 February 1962 (Friday)|
|Age (as of 2023)||61 Years|
|Birthplace||Bombay (now Mumbai), Maharashtra, India|
|Hometown||Mumbai, Maharashtra, India|
|College/University||Elphinstone College, University of Mumbai|
|Educational Qualification||A bachelor's degree in Philosophy (Honours) nuernberg.de|
|Religion||Zoroastrianism Navbharat Times
Note: According to some sources, Teesta Setalvad is a Hindu who is married to a Muslim. nuernberg.de
|Ethnicity||Parsi Navbharat Times|
|Address||Nirant, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu, Santacruz West, Mumbai, Maharashtra - 400049|
|Controversies||• Presenting wrong witnesses to the court: On several occasions, Teesta Setalvad has been accused of presenting false witnesses with malicious intent in the courtrooms. In 2004, during the hearing of the "Best Bakery Case," the court noted that the witness named Zaheera Sheikh, who was presented in the court by Teesta Setalvad, was giving inconsistent statements. Later on, it was revealed that the witness was being pressurised by Teesta and her NGO, CJP, give false statements to transfer the case outside of Gujarat. In 2005, for distorting and presenting the facts with malicious intent, Zaheera Sheikh was given a one-year prison sentence by the court. The court in its official statement stated,
"A self-condemned liar falling to inducements by certain persons to give inconsistent statements during the trial of the case. The court should not be a tape recording machine but play a participatory role. We find that people have started feeling that criminal trials are like cobweb where small flies are getting caught and big people are dashing through.” Rediff.com
• Presenting exaggerated claims: On several occasions, Teesta Setalvad has been accused of presenting exaggerated claims in the courts of law. In 2009, Teesta presented an account in the Supreme Court and stated that during the 2002 Gujarat riots, a Muslim woman named Kausar Bano, who was pregnant, was brutally and sexually assaulted by a group of rioters. Teesta further claimed that the pregnant lady was killed by the group by forcefully removing her womb with the help of a sharp-edged weapon. After conducting a thorough investigation, the Special Investigation Team, formed by the order of the Supreme Court, presented its investigative results, stating that Teesta Setalvad had exaggerated the fact. The SIT stated that Kausar Bano was indeed killed during the riots, but neither was she sexually assaulted nor did she die by having her womb forcefully removed. The Supreme Court in its judgement over the issue stated,
"The protagonists of the quest for justice are sitting in a comfortable environment in their air-conditioned office may succeed in connecting failures of the state administration at different levels during such a horrendous situation, little knowing or even referring to the ground realities and the continual effort put in by the duty holders in controlling the spontaneous evolving situation unfolding aftermath mass violence across the state.” The Economic Times
• Accused of misappropriation of funds: In early 2013, 12 residents of the Gulbarg Society in Gujarat wrote a letter to the Gujarat police in which they mentioned that Teesta Setalvad had wrongfully collected money in the name of providing justice to the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots from the residents of the society. The letter also alleged Teesta of collecting money from the society to construct a museum for the victims of riots. The Indian Express On 13 March 2013, in another letter written to the Joint Commissioner of the Crime Branch, the residents, including the Secretary of the society, said that the letter with the society's official letterhead that was written earlier was wrongfully written by "some miscreants" of the society. Teesta's NGO, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), also issued a clarification regarding the collection of the funds and construction of the museum. In its official statement, the NGO stated that they had not collected any amount of money from the society, and all the money (Rs 4,60,285) that they had collected was through other national and international sources. The NGO further stated that the museum could not be built because of the fluctuating prices of the land. The Times of India
• Illegal foreign funding: The law of India states that to accept donations in kind from any international source, the parent organisation has to be registered under the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA). From 2004 to 2014, Teesta's NGO, CJP, accepted a total of $290,000 from an American organisation named Ford Foundation. The CJP was accused of accepting the donations without registering itself with the FCRA; moreover, the Ford Foundation was already on the watch list of the Gujarat government for interfering in the internal matters of the state. In 2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs conducted a series of investigations on the allegations and temporarily cancelled the NGO's license. An official statement issued by MHA stated,
"Prima facie violations of various provisions of FCRA were noticed. An on-site inspection or a raid was conducted of books and accounts and records from 9-11 June 2015 at its Juhu Tara office. On 9 September FCRA registration was suspended and issued a show cause notice to Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Aanand. They were given a personal hearing on 11 April 2016. On 16 June, the registration was cancelled with the government with immediate effect.” Firstpost
• Accused of spreading hatred: On 31 March 2018, Raees Khan Pathan, a close associate of the couple, lodged an FIR against Teesta and Javed for "mixing religion with politics" and spreading religious hatred through their NGO Khoj. The NGO was established by the couple with an aim of providing quality education to those who cannot afford education. Pathan also accused the duo of siphoning off Rs 1.4 crore, which was granted to their NGO by the Government of India between 2008 and 2014 under the National Policy on Education. The police registered an FIR against the couple under sections 153A and 153B of the IPC. In 2019, the couple was granted anticipatory bail by the Gujarat High Court. NewsClick
• Arrested for procuring fake documents against PM Modi: In June 2022, the Supreme Court rejected the joint litigation filed by Teesta Setalvad, R. B. Sreekumar, Sanjiv Bhatt, and Zakia Jafri against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The court reprimanded the trio for playing with the emotions of the 2002 Gujarat riots victim Zakia Jafri. After the joint litigation filed by Teesta and others was rejected by the apex court, Teesta Setalvad was arrested by the Gujarat police on the charges of presenting fake documents to accuse the Prime Minister of India. The Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested Teesta under Sections 468, 471 (forgery), 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence), 211 (institute criminal proceedings to cause injury), 218 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save a person from punishment or property from forfeiture), and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. The Supreme Court, in its official statement, stated that,
"Teesta has been vindictively persecuting this lie for her ulterior design by exploiting the emotions and sentiments of Zakia Jafri. The proceedings have been pursued for the last 16 years to keep the pot boiling, for ulterior design. However, the court has observed that it does not wish to get into the locus of Teesta Setalvad (secretary of Citizens for Justice and Peace, an organisation allegedly formed to advocate for the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots) in the litigation and has kept it to be decided in an appropriate case. All those involved in such abuse of process need to be in dock and proceeded with in accordance with law. The appeal against 2012 decision of the court is with malafide intent and under the dictation of someone.” LawBeat
On 1 July 2023, in an urgent late night hearing, a 3-judge bench, comprising Justices BR Gavai, AS Bopanna, and Dipankar Dutta after Justices Abhay S Oka and Prashant Kumar Mishra differed with respect to granting her bail earlier on the same day, of the Supreme Court granted her interim bail. Live Law On 19 July 2023, the Supreme Court of India granted her regular bail. The Times of India
• Accused of collaborating to destabilise the Gujarat government: On 18 July 2022, the SIT, in its plea against Teesta Setalvad's bail plea, accused the social activist of receiving Rs 30 lakh from the late Congress leader Ahmed Patel. The SIT also accused Teesta of receiving money from the late Congress leader to destabilize the Gujarat government "by hook or by crook" after the 2002 Gujarat riots. In its plea, the SIT stated,
"Setalvad used to meet the leaders of a prominent national party in power at that time in New Delhi to implicate names of senior leaders of the BJP government in riot cases."
Teesta, in her protest plea, rejected all the accusations levied upon her by the SIT and stated that she never accused anyone with the intent of destabilizing the government. NDTV On 2 September 2022, the Supreme Court allowed her interim bail in a case of alleged forgery and fabrication of records in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots cases. While allowing her interim bail a three-judge Special Bench led by Chief Justice of India U. U. Lalit emphaisesed that interim bail was "evidently made out" as she was a woman who had already undergone seven days of custodial interrogation. On 30 July 2022, her bail plea was refused by the trial court following which she applied to the High Court for regular bail and, in addition, interim bail during the pendency of her plea for regular bail. On 3 August 2022, the High Court refused her interim bail following which she appealed to the Supreme Court against both the lower court and High Court orders. The Hindu
|Relationships & More|
|Affairs/Boyfriends||Javed Anand (journalist and social activist)
|Marriage Date||Year, 1987|
|Husband/Spouse||Javed Anand (Journalist and Social Activist)
|Children||Son- Jibran Anand
Daughter- Tamara Anand (photographer)
|Parents||Father- Atul Setalvad (lawyer)
Mother- Sita Setalvad
|Siblings||Sister- Amili Atul Setalvad (businesswoman)|
|Assets/Properties||Teesta Setalvad owns a bungalow named Nirant in the posh area of Juhu in Mumbai. According to some media outlets, the estimated cost of her bungalow is somewhere between Rs 400 crore to Rs 600 crore. The bungalow is said to have a lawn spreading across three acres of land. Also, it is believed to be at least thrice as big as Amitabh Bachchan's bungalow named Jalsa. Navbharat Times
Some Lesser Known Facts About Teesta Setalvad
- Teesta Setalvad is an Indian journalist and a civil rights activist, who is known for filing litigations against the Narendra Modi-led Gujarat government after the 2002 Gujarat riots. In July 2022, she was arrested by the Gujarat police ATS on the charges of presenting false pieces of evidence against Narendra Modi in court.
- Teesta Setalvad hails from a family of renowned lawyers. Her grandfather, M. C. Setalvad, was independent India’s first Attorney General of India (AG). He remained the Attorney General of India from 1950 to 1963.
- In 1979, after completing her schooling, Teesta Setalvad initially pursued her graduation in law, but she dropped out of the law college to pursue her graduation in Philosophy (Honours), which she completed in 1983.
- Teesta Setalvad started her career as a journalist in 1983. She began working with renowned print news media outlets like The Daily (India), The Indian Express and the Business Magazine. She was hired as a columnist by the media outlets to write the news for their audience in Bombay.
- Teesta Setalvad got her first major break in journalism when she was given the task of covering the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The event was covered by her in great detail, earning her huge appreciation.
- In 1993 when the Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in Mumbai after the demolition of the Babri Masjid, Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand, her husband, decided to leave their jobs as journalists to start their print media outlet named Communalism Combat. While giving an interview, Teesta said,
The opportunity to report on the riots is very limited in the mainstream media. We were allowed to cover only a few aspects of the riots, whereas a larger part of the information on the riots was mostly censored. Therefore, me and my wife, we both decided to quit our jobs and start our own reporting magazine.”
- In 1992, Teesta and her husband, Javed, founded another news agency named Sabrang. Through Sabrang, the couple published many articles such as Damning Verdict: Report of the Srikrishna Commission, Saffron on the rampage: Gujarat’s Muslims pay for the Lashkar’s deeds, The Foreign Exchange of Hate: IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva, and many more. These articles were based on the reports which were published by several committees.
- In the early 2000s, while serving as a General Secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Teesta Setalvad launched a series of protests against the nuclear tests being conducted by both India and Pakistan.
- On 1 April 2002, Teesta and Javed, established Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), a Non-governmental Organisation (NGO) that deals with upholding and safeguarding the civil rights of the citizens of India. The NGO was established by the couple in collaboration with other renowned personalities like Javed Akhtar (music composer), Rahul Bose (actor), Vijay Tendulkar, Anil Dharker (a journalist), Father Cedric Prakash (a catholic priest), and Alyque Padamsee.
- The NGO was established by Teesta Setalvad and Javed after the occurrence of the infamous 2002 Gujarat riots. The NGO aims to bring those involved in the 2002 Gujarat riots to justice. Through her NGO, Teesta Setalvad also supports equal civil rights under the constitution of India for the Dalits, Muslims, and women.
- In 2002, Teesta Setalvad, through her NGO, filed a PIL against those accused of the 2002 Gujarat riots, including Narendra Modi, who back then was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
- Teesta Setalvad, on 10 June 2002, testified against the then Chief Minister of Gujarat in front of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom for his alleged role in instigating the riots in Gujarat. As a result of her testimony, the United States banned the entry of Narendra Modi into the country. The ban was revoked by the United States after Narendra Modi became the 14th Prime Minister of India.
- In 2002, Teesta Setalvad authored a chapter, When Guardians Betray: The Role of the Police, in a book titled Gujarat: The Making of a Tragedy. The book was based on the incidents that took place during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
- In 2002, CJP and Zakia Jafri, filed a joint PIL in the Supreme Court, levelling a series of 21 allegations against the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. The Chief Minister was accused of allowing the parading of the dead bodies of the victims of the riots, giving complete control of the Gujarat police’s control room to the cabinet ministers, appointing members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) as public prosecutors, and a lot more.
- On 27 April 2009, following the filing of another litigation by CJP, the Supreme Court ordered the formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the Chairmanship of R. K. Raghavan. The SIT was ordered to probe nine incidents pertaining to the 2002 Gujarat riots.
- On 14 May 2010, the SIT submitted its findings to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court then appointed Raju Ramachandran as its amicus curiae (advisor to the court). Raju Ramachandran found several disparities in the report filed by the SIT. Upon conducting an independent investigation into the matter, Raju Ramachandran stated in his report that an IPS officer, Sanjiv Bhatt, who, in 2002, was posted in Gujarat, was called to the CM’s residence for an emergency meeting where he was instructed by the CM himself to let the riots take place so as to allow the rioters to “teach the Muslims a lesson.”
- On 8 February 2012, disagreeing with the independent investigation of Raju Ramachandran, the SIT filed its closure report with the Supreme Court.
- On 10 April 2012, the Supreme Court, upon finding no conclusive evidence, gave its decision in favour of the accused individuals and acquitted the accused, including the then CM of Gujarat Narendra Modi.
- On 15 April 2013, demanding the SIT to hand over their collected pieces of evidence to the petitioners, CJP and Zakia Jafri filed another litigation. While filing a counter-petition against the litigation of CJP and Zakia Jafri, the SIT stated,
Teesta Setalvad and others have falsified the complaint targeting the chief minister who had never said that go and kill people. Their lawyer further submitted that the so-called incident of Chief Minister (Narendra Modi) giving instructions (in the meeting) to high-level police officers not to take action against the rioters is a sole creation of Teesta Setalvad. There is no evidence of the same and that Setalvad was not present during the incident.”
- In 2013, CJP filed another PIL in the Supreme Court, seeking an investigation into the alleged roles played by the accused persons in the burning down of the “Best Bakery” in the 2002 Gujarat riots. The CJP also successfully managed to have the “Best Bakery Case” transferred to the Bombay High Court from the Gujarat High Court.
- By early 2014, all the litigations filed by CJP against those accused of the 2002 Gujarat riots were rejected by the Supreme Court due to a lack of evidence against the accused individuals.
- In 2014, Teesta Setalvad published another book titled Gujarat: Behind the Mirage: a Collection of Informed Arguments.
- Teesta Setalvad authored another book in 2017. It was titled Foot Soldier of the Constitution: A Memoir.
- In 2019, Teesta published another book, Sanvidhanacha Jaglya Mazya Aathavani. The book was published in Marathi.
- She published a book titled Beyond Doubt – A Dossier on Gandhi’s Assassination. It is based on the events of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
- In 2020, the British Columbian University honoured Teesta Setalvad with an Honourary Doctorate.
- Teesta Setalvad co-authored a book titled Delhi’s Agony. The book was published in 2021.
- Teesta Setalvad is also an inner circle member of the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy. She was made a member of the forum for supporting better India-Pakistan relations.
- Teesta Setalvad is a staunch feminist. She is the founder of the Women in the Media Committee. The committee aims at providing relief to its members, facing different types of prejudices at the workplace by taking immediate action.
- According to several renowned journalists such as Indira Jaising, Teesta Setalvad has been politically hunted for her crusade against the culprits of the 2002 Gujarat Riots. While giving an interview, Indira stated,
The case against Teesta smacks of a dubious plan to deter her and her NGO from assisting the victims of the Gujarat 2002 riots. The financial dealings of Teesta Setalvad and Citizens for Justice and Peace can be probed by the government, but the disproportionality of the legal process, the timing, and the insistence of the prosecution on custodial interrogation smack of an evil vendetta.”
- In June 2022, upon getting arrested by Gujarat police, after the Supreme Court’s decision, Home Minister Amit Shah blamed her and her NGO, Citizens for Justice and Peace, for vehemently targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, time and again. While giving an interview, the Home Minister stated,
I have already read the judgement very carefully. The judgement clearly mentions the name of Teesta Setalvad. The NGO that was run being run by her – I do not remember the name of the NGO- had given baseless information about the riots to the police.”
- During an interview, Teesta Setalvad once claimed that during childhood she was very close to her father and grandfather, but she shared a very troubled relationship with her mother, Sita Setalvad.