Gujarat HC notice to state govt on Teesta Setalvad’s plea seeking quashing of FIR in ‘fabrication of evidence’ case

The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the state government on a plea filed by social activist Teesta Setalvad seeking to quash an FIR registered against her by the city crime branch for allegedly fabricating evidence in 2002 riots cases.

The court of Justice J C Doshi issued notices to the state government and the investigating officer in the case, returnable on November 29. The court also issued a notice to the government on Setalvad’s plea for grant of interim relief by staying the ongoing trial in the case, also returnable on the same date.

The court also directed the investigating officer to file a report about progress in the investigation, and permitted the petitioner to produce additional documents by way of an affidavit.

A sessions court had rejected Setalvad’s discharge plea in the case, even as the Supreme Court granted her bail in July this year after the Gujarat High Court denied relief to her.

Setalvad and two others – former state Director General of Police R B Sreekumar and former Indian Police Service officer Sanjiv Bhatt – were arrested by the city crime branch in June 2022 on charges of forgery and fabricating false evidence with the intent to implicate Gujarat government functionaries, including the then chief minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots cases.

An FIR was registered against them soon 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.

She has been booked under sections 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction for capital offence) of the Indian Penal Code, among others.

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

In its judgment, the Supreme Court observed, “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 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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