Thursday, May 26, 2011

HC reserves order to summon Teesta

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday reserved its order till May 27 to quash the criminal proceedings against activist Teesta Setalvad. Panchmahals police had registered a case against her in connection with the digging of mass graves in Panderwada in 2006. Setalvad had filed a petition to quash the same. The state government has termed Setalvad as the main conspirator in the case while the activist has accused the government of acting against her with malafide intention.

In her petition, Setalvad has also sought quashing of the summon issued by the investigating officer asking her to appear before him on May 31. The police had first summoned her in connection with the case on May 9. Setalvad’s counsel Kamini Jaiswal said Setalvad was not present at the scene of the alleged offence when it was reported. Jaiswal also took objection to naming Setalvad an absconding accused in the chargesheet against the other accused. She said Setalvad has been in correspondence with the Investigating Officer regularly, adding that the IO has sent her summons at her residence after the filing of the chargesheet.
Public Prosecutor Prakash Jani opposed the petition and said Setalvad had come out as the main conspirator in the case and as many as five accused had given statements under Section 164 of the CrPC against her in this regard. He also argued that the HC had previously dismissed a similar petition seeking interalia to quash a particular section in the case.

During hearing, Justice G B Shah asked Jani why the state government called Setalvad an absconding accused in its chargesheet against the other accused when she was very much available. The court also asked why the police sent summons to Setalvad as she has been named absconding. Jani replied that it is not prohibited under the law. 

Jaiswal said the very act of naming Setalvad an absconding accused proved the government’s malafide intention and that she would withdraw her quashing plea, but the summon has to be stayed. The case relates to the exhumation of 28 unidentified bodies of the riot victims of Panderwada and the surrounding villages — buried by the local authorities in a wasteland near Panam river in March 2002 — in December 2006 without permission. The accused were slapped with various charges under IPC, including inciting religious feelings of the people.
IE 26MAY2011 Gujarat EDN


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