Gujarat court rejects Teesta Setalvad, RB Sreekumar's bail pleas
An Ahmedabad sessions court denied bail to activist Teesta Setalvad and ex-Gujarat DGP RB Sreekumar in a case of evidence fabrication linked to the Gujarat riots on Saturday. The Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch arrested Setalvad and Sreekumar on June 25, while ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt was jailed earlier this month for allegedly manufacturing evidence to frame innocent people in 2002 riots cases.
- Setalvad was one of the earliest activists to take up cases of the Gujarat riot victims in 2002, with the NGO CJP providing victims with legal assistance.
- MC Setalvad, India's first attorney-general, was her grandfather.
- Setalvad was a co-petitioner, while Zakia Jafri was the main petitioner in the Supreme Court case that was dismissed recently, contesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's exoneration.
Although the specific verdict has not yet been made available to the general public, it was rendered after a total of four postponements, which were caused by a variety of factors. Furthermore, it was rendered on the day that the presiding Additional Sessions Judge DD Thakkar retired, just a couple of hours before his farewell ceremony.
Following the conclusion of the hearings in Setalvad and Sreekumar's bail applications on July 21, the court tentatively deferred its decision until July 26. Given the extensive record and the judge's becoming ill in the interval, the court ultimately decided to postpone the verdict announcement until July 27, 28, and 29. The verdict was finally announced on Saturday without specific details.
Gujarat cops detained Setalvad and Sreekumar on allegations of criminal conspiracy, forgery, and record falsification, among other IPC sections, based on an FIR made by Inspector Darshansinh Barad, who quotes extensively from the Supreme Court's judgment. The nine-page FIR filed on behalf of Gujarat state also names ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who is already in jail for another case.
Supreme Court panel comprising justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and CT Ravikumar had said the appeal filed by the wife of Congress politician Ehsan Jafri, who was killed during the riots at Ahmedabad's Gulberg Society in 2002, was "devoid of merits and deserved to be dismissed." Jafri had appealed the Gujarat High Court's judgment in 2017 to dismiss her appeal against the SIT finding.
"All those involved in such abuse of process need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with the law," the SC order stated, presuming Jafri's appeal was submitted under the "dictation of someone." Reports said Setalvad has had several run-ins with the CBI and the Gujarat Police since Modi became India's Prime Minister in 2014.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah hailed the Supreme Court's decision in the Gujarat riots case, which has rejected a request for an investigation into a "larger conspiracy." Shah stated on Saturday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had "endured false allegations" related to the Gujarat riots for 19 years in silence because the matter was sub-judice and all allegations against him were politically motivated.
Setalvad was arrested barely hours after Shah allegedly revealed in an interview that she gave fake information concerning the 2002 Gujarat riots and participated in an effort to smear Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reputation.