SC asks Gujarat to stop probe against Teesta Setalvad in grave-digging case

State govt has slapped a case on her for allegedly exhuming bodies of riot victims buried near the Panam river.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi | Published: April 13, 2012 1:21:24 pm

The Supreme Court today asked the Gujarat government to stop any further investigation into the case against social activist Teesta Setalvad for her alleged role in the illegal exhumation of bodies of the 2002 riot victims in Pandarwada,saying it was a malafide case.

However,the Gujarat government said the chargesheet in the case has already been filed and the offence made out.

“The offence is made out,” senior advocate Ravi Shankar Prasad told a bench comprising justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai.

Prasad gave the response when the bench said,”You must have read the FIR in the case and the FIR itself was a violation of human rights.”

“We are thoroughly dissatisfied in the manner the FIR was lodged and the allegations contained in the FIR. The FIR is in violation of human rights,” the bench observed.

The bench was hearing a petition by Setalvad against the May 27 order of the Gujarat High Court,which had refused to quash the FIR registered against her at a police station in Panchmahal district on the exhumation of bodies from a graveyard near River Panam.

The Gujarat government submitted that initially Setalvad was not an accused in the case but during investigation,her alleged role was established and there were independent witnesses to support the allegations against her.

The court agreed to hear the case but said,”it is a malafide case.”

“Today,we ask you (state) to stop further investigation in the case,” the bench said. At this point,Prasad said that the chargesheet has been filed in the case and investigation was carried when she was not an accused.

However,the bench said,”Whatever position stands today shall remain” and posted the matter for July 18.

Prasad also told the bench there was no plea for quashing the case against Setalvad in the Gujarat High Court .

During the last hearing,the bench had said it was a “spurious” case to victimise Setalvad. Besides this case,the Gujarat government has also lodged criminal proceedings against her in other riot-related cases.

Earlier,the bench had said it was not correct on the part of the Gujarat government to go ahead with the case.

The state,in its affidavit,had said its probe against Setalvad had showed she actually planned and executed the digging of graves without permission.

The state claimed during probe,it had emerged that “Teesta Setalvad,the petitioner herein,was the main accused,who actually planned and executed this operation of digging of graves near Pandarwada through her staff.”

The government said the other accused blamed Setalvad for instigating them to carry out the exhumation,which is a penal offence.

It was alleged that in 2002,about 28 unidentified bodies of riot victims from Pandarwada and surrounding villages in Khanpur taluka were buried in the graveyard.

The high court had declined to scrap the FIR,but had quashed the summons,which had said she was absconding.

In its May 27,2011 order,the high court had observed that by showing Setalvad as an absconding accused in the chargesheet filed in April,”a glaring mistake has been committed by the investigating officer”.

The FIR had alleged that Setalvad,who had earlier secured anticipatory bail from a local court in Panchmahal district,was the prime conspirator behind the incident.

The state government,in its affidavit,had named five accused Rais Khan Pathan,Gulam Kharadi,Sikander Abbas,Qutub Shah Diwan,Jabir Mohammed who in their respective statement blamed Setalvad for instigating them.

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