Gujarat: Setalvad’s lawyer says affidavits termed as false by prosecution were signed by witnesses, submitted in courts earlier

The counsel of social activist Teesta Setalvad on Thursday told a sessions court here that affidavits which the prosecution claims are false were signed by witnesses and submitted in different courts in the past.

The Gujarat government has claimed Setalvad fabricated evidence to frame innocent persons in connection with the 2002 riots that took place in the state after the train burning incident in Godhra.

Setalvad’s lawyer Somnath Vatsa told the court the affidavits in question cannot be considered as ‘fabricated evidence’ because they were signed by witnesses, submitted in different courts in the past and even testimonies of witnesses were recorded by the courts based on these signed affidavits related to the 2002 Gujarat riots cases.

Setalvad’s submission came days after the Gujarat government opposed the discharge application filed by her in a sessions court here in a case of alleged fabrication of evidence to frame innocent people in 2002 post-Godhra riot cases.

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

Further arguments in the case will be held in Patel’s court on Friday.

The government affidavit of July 4 had alleged that Setalvad drafted affidavits in the names of riot victims to implicate innocent persons, including the then chief minister (Narendra Modi), senior officers, and ministers,

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 the 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 had 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.

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She was released on interim bail on September 3.

In its judgment, the HC 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.

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