Gujarat court reserves order on Teesta Setalvad’s discharge plea till July 20 in ‘fabricating evidence’ case

A court in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad on Wednesday reserved till July 20 its order on a discharge application moved by social activist Teesta Setalvad, who is accused of fabricating evidence to frame innocent people in 2002 riots cases.

Additional Sessions Judge Ambalal Patel reserved the order after arguments of both sides concluded.

Setalvad and two others – former Director General of Police (DGP) RB Sreekumar and ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt – were arrested by the city crime branch in June last year on charges of forgery and fabricating false evidence with the intent to procure conviction for capital offence in connection with the 2002 riots cases.

Setalvad was later granted bail.

The Gujarat High Court had on July 1 rejected Setalvad’s bail plea and directed her to surrender immediately while observing that she made attempts to unsettle the then democratically-elected government and malign the image of then chief minister and current Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

But the Supreme Court passed an interim order protecting her from arrest in the case, and posted the matter for hearing on July 19.

As per the Special Investigation Team (SIT), constituted to probe the case, Setalvad was part of a larger conspiracy carried out at the behest of Congress leader late Ahmed Patel to destabilise the then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by chief minister Narendra Modi.

At Patel’s behest, Setalvad received Rs 30 lakh after post-Godhra riots in 2002 that was used for the purpose, it alleged.

A first information report (FIR) was registered against them after the Supreme Court last year dismissed the plea filed by Zakia Jafri, whose husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was killed during the riots.

The plea alleged a “larger conspiracy” behind the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat involving the then chief minister Narendra Modi. The court upheld the SIT’s clean chit to Modi and 63 others.

In its judgment, the Supreme Court observed that, “At the end of the day, it appears to us that a coalesced effort of the disgruntled officials of the State of Gujarat along with others was to create sensation by making revelations which were false to their own knowledge.

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“The falsity of their claims had been fully exposed by the SIT after a thorough investigation…As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process need to be in the dock and proceed in accordance with law.”

Ehsan Jafri was among the 68 people killed at Ahmedabad’s Gulberg Society during the violence on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train burning that claimed 59 lives.

The riots that it triggered killed 1,044 people, mostly Muslims. Giving details, the Central government informed the Rajya Sabha in May 2005 that 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims were killed in the post-Godhra riots.

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