The Gujarat government on Monday told the Supreme Court that there is a strong case made out against the social rights activist Teesta Setalvad for some of the most serious offences whereby criminal conspiracy was hatched for and by fabricating false evidence with a clear intention to get a conviction of several persons for capital punishment in 2002 Gujarat riots case.
The affidavit of the Gujarat government stated that the FIR against Setalvad for falsifying evidence related to the riots, is not solely based on a top court judgment but is backed by evidence. It said that investigating agency has “collected sufficient material which shows that Setalvad not only wields substantial influence herself and through several other persons protecting her for their own personal interests but is found to be exercising such influence over witnesses since 2002 onwards. It is submitted that such influence is by using money as well as administering or getting the threats administered.”
Systematic efforts were made to ensure that both oral and other evidence is fabricated, the affidavit stated.
It further said, “Investigation conducted so far has brought irrefutable material on record to substantiate the contents of the FIR that the applicant (Setalvad) along with other accused persons had done various criminal acts of omission and commission to achieve political, financial and other material benefits by means of executing the conspiracy.”
The statements of witnesses established that Setalvad conspired with a senior leader of a political party, it added.
The government said, “The witnesses establish that the conspiracy was enacted by the present petitioner along with other accused persons at the behest of a senior leader of a political party. It is submitted that the petitioner had held meetings with the set political leader and had received large amounts of money. It is submitted that it has come on record by way of the statement of a witness that such money was not part of any relief related Corpus,”
“The present investigation focuses on how and why the petitioner and others fabricated evidence and the motive behind the same and the method of fabrication, mode of falsification, nature of the conspiracy and the persons involved. This investigation is, therefore, independent from what is judicially adjudicated by the judgment dated June 24, 2022, passed by this Court. The reliance on the said judgment by the petitioner in present proceedings is merely to make out an unsustainable ground to directly approach this Court and is an attempt to be treated specially. This is an attempt to abuse the process of law,” it added while opposing the plea of Setalvad’s bail.
The response was filed on the petition of Setalvad seeking interim bail in a case in which she was arrested for allegedly fabricating documents to frame innocent people in the 2002 Gujarat riots cases.
“The conduct of the petitioner, to abuse the process of law and attempts to corrode the sanctity and purity of criminal judicial process by creating, submitting and using false evidence and falsely charging innocent persons. It is submitted that the claim of the petitioner that she has never been involved in tutoring of witnesses is found to be false in the ongoing investigation based on statements of several witnesses.”
Earlier, a bench of Justices UU Lalit, Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia had earlier sought the Gujarat government’s response on her plea.
Setalvad has approached the top court against the August 3 order of the Gujarat High Court which issued notice to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) seeking its response to bail applications filed by Setalvad and former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) RB Sreekumar and posted the hearing on September 19.
Setalvad and Sreekumar had approached the High Court after their bail applications were rejected by the Ahmedabad city sessions court.
On July 30, the Ahmedabad sessions court had refused to grant bail to Setalvad and Sreekumar while noting that the accused appeared to have aimed to “destabilise” the Gujarat government and defame the state for their ulterior motives.
They were arrested by the Ahmedabad Police Crime Branch on June 25 on the basis of a First Information Report (FIR) registered against them under sections 468 (forgery for cheating) and 194 (fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction for capital offences) of the Indian Penal Code.
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed to probe the case has alleged that Setalvad and Sreekumar were part of a larger conspiracy carried out at the behest of late Congress leader Ahmed Patel to destabilise the then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Supreme Court, Teesta Setalvad, UU Lalit, 2002 Gujarat riots, Narendra Modi, Gujarat, who was the Chief Minister of Gujarat at the time. Former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt is also an accused in the case.
The FIR against Setalvad, Sreekumar, and Bhatt was registered after the Supreme Court had on June 24 dismissed the plea filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, challenging the clean chit given by the SIT to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several others in 2002 Gujarat riots.
Ehsan Jafri was among 69 people killed during the violence at Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002. Zakia Jafri has challenged the SIT’s clean chit to 64 people including Narendra Modi who was the Gujarat Chief Minister during the riots in the State. She had alleged a “larger conspiracy” behind the post-Godhra incident riots.
However, the SIT in the apex court had opposed the plea of Jafri saying there is a sinister plot behind the complaint to probe the “larger conspiracy” behind the 2002 Gujarat riots and the original complaint by Jafri was directed by Teesta Setalvad, who levelled allegations just to keep the pot boiling.