The Supreme Court on Friday stayed criminal proceedings against social activist Teesta Setalvad for her alleged role in a case of exhuming the bodies of post-Godhra riot victims in 2006 at Pandarwada in Gujarat.
A bench of justices Aftab Alam and R.M. Lodha also issued notice to the Gujarat government seeking its response to Ms. Setalvad’s plea for quashing the criminal proceedings against her.
She had approached the Apex Court against the May 27 order of the Gujarat High Court refusing to quash the First Information Report (FIR) registered against her.
Mr. Setalvad had moved the High Court in May for quashing the FIR registered against her at a police station in Panchmahal district of the State in connection with exhumation of the bodies from Pandarwada and surrounding villages in Khanpur taluka from a graveyard near river Panam in Gujarat.
The High Court, however, had quashed the summons issued to her terming her as absconding. It observed that by showing Ms. 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 Ms. Setalvad, who had earlier secured anticipatory bail from a local court in Panchmahal district, was the prime conspirator behind the incident.
Ms. Setalvad was implicated in the case by one of her former close aides Rais Khan who was associated earlier with her civil society organisation - Citizen for Justice and Peace (CJP).
Mr. Khan had alleged that the bodies were exhumed at the instance of Ms. Setalvad.
It was alleged that in 2002 about 28 unidentified bodies of the riot victims from Pandarwada and surrounding villages of Khanpur taluka of the district were buried in a graveyard near river Panam there.
After over four years, Rais Khan, who was then associated with CJP, and 12 others exhumed these bodies without prior permission of the government.
Following this a criminal complaint was registered, but the investigation began only last year, as the accused had obtained stay on probe from the Gujarat High Court.