‘No Evidence, SIT Taking Irrelevant Broader Conspiracy Route,’ Teesta Setalvad Tells Court The Wire

19, Jul 2022

Calling maintainable evidence “non-existent,” the activist’s counsel said that not granting bail in this matter would be a travesty of justice.

The Mumbai-based activist, who is in jail in Gujarat, also denied charges of fabricating evidence to implicate innocent people in the 2002 riots cases.

During the hearing on her bail application, Setalvad, represented by lawyer Somnath, argued that the slew of allegations against her were not backed by evidence.

None of the alleged offences in the matter are maintainable under Sections 191/192 (giving and fabricating false evidence) and even Section 211 (instituting criminal proceedings to cause injury) of the Indian Penal Code, as none of the courts in which the said matter were being heard had made any complaint whatsoever, Setalvad’s counsel sought to establish.

“Instead of substantiating their case with adequate evidence, they [the SIT] have gone into totally irrelevant ‘broader conspiracy’ which has no immediate relevance to this case,” Setalvad presented.

Calling maintainable evidence “non-existent,” Setalvad’s counsel said that not granting bail in this matter would be a travesty of justice.

Another accused in the case, former Director General of Police (DGP) RB Sreekumar, also denied allegations before the court of Sessions Judge DD Thakkar and said his statements made before an inquiry commission have immunity from criminal prosecution.

The court kept the date for next hearing on July 20 when the prosecution will begin its argument. Setalvad’s bail will also be decided then.

The Special Investigation Team probing the case, in its affidavit before the court last week, had accused Setalvad of conspiring with Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt for “dismissal or destabilisation of the elected government in Gujarat by hook or by crook.”

Setalvad, along with Sreekumar and Bhatt, was arrested by the Ahmedabad Crime Branch last month for allegedly fabricating evidence to implicate innocent persons in the 2002 riots cases.

They have been booked under IPC sections 468 (forgery) and 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction for capital offence), among others.

Opposing her bail plea, the SIT said in the affidavit that the conspiracy was carried out at the behest of the late Patel and that Setalvad received Rs 30 lakh after the 2002 riots on the behest of the senior Congress leader.

Last month, the Supreme Court had dismissed a plea filed by Zakia Jafri, whose husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was killed in the riots.

The plea had alleged a “larger conspiracy” behind the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat. But the apex court upheld a previous SIT’s clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi (the then-chief minister of Gujarat) and 63 others.

The apex court had said there is no “title of material” to support the allegation that violence which broke out after the Godhra train burning incident was a “pre-planned event” owing to a conspiracy hatched at the highest level in the state.

The original piece may be read here


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