Teesta Setalvad, Sreekumar sent to 14-day judicial custody
Activist Teesta Setalvad and former DGP RB Sreekumar were sent to 14-day judicial custody by a magisterial court following the end of their police remand on Saturday. The duo was arrested by the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) a day after the Supreme Court affirmed the exoneration by Special Investigation Team (SIT) of then-Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the Gujarat riots of 2002.
- In 2002, Setalvad was one of the earliest activists to take up cases of the Gujarat riot victims, with the 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.
Meanwhile, Setalvad, through her lawyer SM Vatsa, filed an application for in-prison protection. She cited the fact that many people convicted as a result of her work with the NGO (CJP) are being lodged in the Sabarmati central jail, where she would be confined during her judicial custody. Therefore, she anticipated danger if protection is not provided to her.
Meanwhile, prosecutors Mitesh Amin and Amit Patel opposed the application by Setalvad seeking protection inside the jail. They claimed she is "not an extraordinary prisoner." Previously, Patel stated that the police did not seek extended remand of the accused and instead requested that they be held in judicial custody, which the court granted for 14 days.
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, "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.