Fabrication of evidence case: Gujarat govt opposes discharge plea of Teesta Setalvad

The Gujarat government has opposed the discharge application filed by social activist Teesta Setalvad in a sessions court here in a case of the alleged fabrication of evidence to frame innocent people in 2002 post-Godhra riot cases.

The government on Monday told the court of additional sessions judge Ambalal Patel that Setalvad had abused the trust of the 2002 riots victims.

Setalvad drafted affidavits in their names to implicate innocent persons including then chief minister (Narendra Modi), senior officers, and ministers, the government affidavit said.

Notably, the Supreme Court on Saturday protected Setalvad from arrest and stayed for a week the Gujarat High Court order rejecting her plea for regular bail and asking her to surrender immediately in the case of the alleged fabrication of evidence.

The case against Setalvad and two other accused — former Director General of Police (DGP) RB Sreekumar and ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt — is being heard in the court of additional sessions judge. The court had earlier rejected Sreekumar’s discharge plea.

While opposing Setalvad’s discharge plea, the government has relied on the statements of witnesses Rais Khan Pathan, who worked at the activist’s NGO Citizen for Peace, Narendra Brahmbhatt who had claimed that late Congress leader Ahmed Patel had allegedly paid the activist Rs 30 lakh, and riot victim Qutubuddin Ansari.

The government also highlighted the “contradiction” in the affidavits of riot victims prepared by Setalvad and the statements recorded by them before the court.

“There is sufficient evidence and reasons to file a chargesheet against the accused. For the reasons mentioned above and taking into account the reasons and submissions to be presented during the argument, the court is requested to reject the discharge plea of the accused,” the government’s affidavit said.

Setalvad was arrested in June last year along with former Gujarat Director General of Police R B Sreekumar and ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in an offence registered by Ahmedabad crime branch police for allegedly fabricating evidence to frame “innocent people” in the post-Godhra riots cases.

She was released on interim bail on September 3.

In its judgment, the high court had observed that prima facie Setalvad used her close associates and riot victims to file “false and fabricated affidavits before the Supreme Court with a view to unseat the establishment and to tarnish the image of establishment and the then chief minister (Modi)”.

The fabrication of evidence case against Setalvad, Bhatt and Sreekumar was registered a day after the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Zakia Jafri case.

The apex court had dismissed a plea of Jafri, the wife of slain former MP Ehsan Jafri, challenging the Special Investigation Team’s (SIT) clean chit to 64 people, including then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, in the 2002 Gujarat riots case.

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Earlier, the Ahmedabad sessions court had rejected the bail applications of Setalvad and Sreekumar.

Last month, the trial court rejected Sreekumar’s plea for discharge in the case. Sreekumar is also out on interim bail granted by the high court.

Former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, the third accused in the case, has not applied for bail. Bhatt is already in jail for another criminal matter when he was arrested in this case.

The Ahmedabad city crime branch had registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Setalvad and two others under Indian Penal Code sections 468 (forgery for cheating) and 194 (fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction for capital offences) of the Indian Penal Code.

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