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Charge Sheet Filed Against Teesta Setalvad, Two Others In Case Of ‘Fabricating Evidence’

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AHMEDABAD, Sept 21: A special investigation team (SIT) on Wednesday submitted a charge sheet against activist Teesta Setalvad, retired director general of police R B Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in a case of alleged fabrication of evidence in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots cases.

The Ahmedabad crime branch had registered the case soon after the Supreme Court in June upheld the clean chit given to then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and 63 others in response to a petition filed by Zakia Jafri alleging larger conspiracy behind the 2002 violence.

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Investigating officer and assistant commissioner of police, Special Operations Group B V Solanki told PTI that the charge sheet was filed in the court of additional chief metropolitan magistrate M V Chauhan.

The 6,300-page charge sheet cites 90 witnesses. Among them are Indian Police Service (IPS) officer-turned-lawyer Rahul Sharma and Congress’s Rajya Sabha MP Shaktisinh Gohil, said Solanki.

The statements of other witnesses have been taken from previous Gujarat riots cases and affidavits submitted by the three accused before various courts and commissions, Solanki said.

The charge sheet also cites relevant judgements of the High Court and Supreme Court and petitions filed by Zakia Jafri in different courts.

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The three accused have been charged under sections 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction for capital offence), 211 (to institute criminal proceeding against a person or falsely charge him with committing an offence while knowing there is no just ground for such proceeding), 218 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

The trial in the case will be held before a sessions court.

Setalvad, arrested on June 26, was released on interim bail following a September 2 order of the Supreme Court.

Sreekumar, also arrested on June 26, remains lodged in jail. The third accused, Bhatt is serving life sentence in Palanpur jail in a custodial death case.

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The three accused instituted “false and malicious criminal proceedings against innocent people with intention to cause injury to several persons, and prepared false records and dishonestly used those records as genuine with the intention to cause damage and injury to many persons,” said the First Information Report lodged at the city crime branch.

Opposing Setalvad’s bail plea in the sessions court, the SIT had alleged that the conspiracy was carried out at the behest of late Congress leader Ahmed Patel. At Patel’s instance, Setalvad received Rs 30 lakh after the post-Godhra riots in 2002, it claimed.

While dismissing Zakia Jafri’s petition in June, the Supreme Court had said there was no “title of material” to support the allegation that violence after the Godhra incident was a “pre-planned event” owing to the  conspiracy hatched at the highest level in the state.

The SC bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and C T Ravikumar had termed Jafri’s plea devoid of merit, and also spoke of “the devious stratagem to keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design” and said all those involved in “such abuse of process need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law”.

Jafri’s husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was among the 68 people killed at Ahmedabad’s Gulberg Society during violence on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train burning incident that claimed 59 lives.

Setalvad had helped Zakia Jafri extensively in her legal battle.

In the riots following the Godhra incident, 1,044 people, majority of them Muslims, were killed. (PTI)


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