HRD grant: Teesta Setalvad liable for mixing religion with politics

New Delhi: An HRD Ministry panel has claimed that Teesta Setalvad and her Sabrang trust tried to “mix religion with politics” and spread disharmony while creating curricular material for the erstwhile UPA government which had given a grant of about Rs 1.4 crore.

The Committee’s finding that a prima facie case exists against her under section 153A and 153B of IPC for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion etc and imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration, has found favour with a top law officer.

“The report of the inquiry committee is exhaustive and deals with every aspect of the matter and that action as suggested in the said report may be undertaken in terms of fixing liabilities/lapses, action for inciting disharmony and hatred and also for recovery of the money as is stipulated in the scheme itself,” the opinion of the law officer, stated to have been received by the HRD Ministry, said.

He gave the opinion after going through the report of a three-member panel, set up by Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD), which examined disbursal and utilisation of funds received by Setalvad for her project ‘Khoj’ under the scheme of ‘National Policy on Education’.

The three-member committee comprising Supreme Court lawyer Abhijit Bhattacharjee, Gujarat Central University Vice Chancellor S A Bari and a Ministry official Gaya Prasad set up by the Ministry examined the allegations levelled by Setalvad’s former close aide Rais Khan Pathan.

Pathan in his complaint has alleged that Sabrang Trust’s publications “spread dissatisfaction among the minorities in the country and project India in a poor light” and indulging in anti-national activities.

The finding assumes significance as Setalvad has moved the Supreme Court as an intervenor in ongoing hearing in which the seven-judge constitution bench is revisiting two-decade-old judgement holding that Hindutva is a “way of life” by seeking a direction for de-linking of politics from religion.

Holding that education has never been the agenda of the ‘Sabrang Trust’ in any of its documents, the report said Setalvad and her trust “appear to be trying to mix religion with politics in the classroom of young children most of whom do not appear to be from well-to-do background.