New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned
the Gujarat government for initiating a probe against social
activist Teesta Setalvad for her alleged role in a case of
illegal exhumation of the bodies of the 2002 riot victims,
saying it is a "spurious" case to victimise her.
"This is a hundred percent spurious case to victimise the
petitioner (Setalvad)," said a bench of justices Aftab Alam
and Ranjana Prakash Desai.
While criticising the state government for beginning the
probe against Setalvad, it added, "This type of case does no
credit to the state of Gujarat in any way."
"This case is hundred percent spurious. In other cases
against petitioner, there may be something," the bench said.
Besides this case, the Gujarat government has also lodged
criminal proceedings against her in other riot-related cases.
The bench was of the view that it was not correct on the
part of the Gujarat government to go ahead with the case.
It asked senior advocate Pradeep Ghosh, who appeared for
the Gujarat government, to go through the First Information
Report (FIR) of the case and advise the government not to
proceed with it.
"You advise your client not to proceed with this type of
case. You should show some responsibility and tell the
government not to proceed with the case," the bench said.
While posting the matter for March 23, the bench asked
the senior counsel to go through the FIR "passionately" and
tell the court as to what does he feel about it.
The bench also asked Gujarat government`s standing
counsel Hemantika Wahi to go through the FIR.
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 of the state on exhumation of the bodies
from a graveyard near river Panam.
While making the critical remarks against the Gujarat
government for initiating the probe against Setalvad in the
body exhumation case, the bench said its interim stay, imposed
on July 29, 2011 on criminal proceedings against Setalvad in
the case would continue till the next date of hearing.
"Interim stay to continue till the next date," it said.
Responding to the apex court notice, the state government
had in its affidavit justified its probe against Setalvad in
the case saying she actually planned and executed the digging
of the graves without any permission in 2006.
It had claimed that during the probe into the case, it has
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 had said the other accused have claimed
innocence and had blamed Setalvad for instigating them to
carry out the exhumation, which is a penal offence.
"Exhumation of the dead bodies without prior permission
of the competent authorities constitutes an offence under
Sections 192 (fabricating false evidence), 193 (punishment for
false evidence, 201 (causing disappearance of evidence), 120-B
criminal conspiracy), 295(A) (deliberate and malicious acts
intended to outrage religious feelings) and 297 (trespassing
on burial places) of IPC," the affidavit had said.
It was alleged that in 2002, about 28 unidentified bodies
of the riot victims from Pandarwada and surrounding villages
in Khanpur taluka were buried in the graveyard.
Earlier, the High Court had declined to scrap the FIR, but
had quashed the summons, which had termed her as absconding.
In its May 27, 2011 order, the High Court had observed
that by showing Setalvad as an absconding accused in the
charge sheet 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.