Gujarat HC says ‘not inclined’ to quash FIR against Teesta Setalvad in mass grave digging case

The Gujarat High Court has orally remarked that after looking at the records, it is “not inclined” to quash the first information report (FIR) registered against social activist Teesta Setalvad in a 2006 case of exhuming bodies of the victims of the 2002 post-Godhra riot.

When the matter came up for hearing on Monday, Justice Sandeep Bhatt told Setalvad’s lawyer, “After going through the record, I am not inclined (to grant relief).”

The activist’s lawyer said that while it was the court’s prerogative, he would try to convince her because no offence was made out against her.

“Ultimately, it is political victimisation (of his client),” he said.

The hearing was then adjourned till January 9 after the government pleader sought accommodation saying that additional advocate general Mitesh Amin would appear in the case.

Setalvad had filed a plea in 2017 after her name was included in the FIR in connection with exhuming 28 bodies from a mass burial site near Pandarwada in Panchmahal district in December 2005.

The activist was accused of conspiring to exhume the bodies after the other accused in the case, including Rais Khan, a former coordinator at her NGO Citizen for Justice and Peace, made a statement against her under section 164 of CrPC.

The Gujarat police had lodged an FIR for creating false evidence, trespassing on a burial place, and outraging religious feelings.

The Lunawada municipality, the complainant in the case, had named Khan as an accused. Khan’s statement after his falling out with Setalvad led to her name being added as an accused in the FIR in 2011.

Setalvad, along with former IPS officers RB Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt, were booked by the city crime branch in June 2022 on the charges of fabricating evidence to frame Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others in cases related to the post-Godhra riots.

They were arrested in the case and are currently out on bail.

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