2002 riots: Gujarat HC grants bail to ex-DGP in case of fabricating evidence

Granting bail to Sreekumar, the court observed that the entire case is based on documentary evidence which is in the custody of the investigating agency.

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court has granted regular bail to ex-DGP RB Sreekumar in a case of fabricating evidence to frame people in connection with the 2002 riots, nearly two weeks after the Supreme Court allowed the bail plea of social activist Teesta Setalvad in the same case.

The court of Justice Ilesh Vora on Friday gave relief to former director-general of police (DGP) Sreekumar, who is already out on interim bail, on a personal bond of Rs 25,000 and directed him to surrender his passport.

An interim bail is granted for a short period before the hearing for the grant of regular bail.

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The HC had earlier rejected the bail plea of Setalvad, one of the three accused in the case registered by the Ahmedabad city crime branch under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections, including 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction for capital offence).

The Supreme Court (SC) granted her regular bail on July 19.

Granting bail to Sreekumar, the court observed that the entire case is based on documentary evidence which is in the custody of the investigating agency. It also said that the applicant is 75 years of age and suffers from age-related ailments and nothing was reported against him that he misused his liberty during the interim bail.

“Thus, when the co-accused has been considered by the apex court and considering the role attributable to present applicant herein and for the above reasons, I am inclined to release the applicant on bail,” it said in its order.

The state government had opposed his bail plea saying the alleged offence is a “very heinous crime” and there is a prima-facie case against him and the role attributable to him in support of the charge.

An FIR was registered against Sreekumar, Setalvad and ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt after the Supreme Court in June 2022 dismissed the plea filed by Zakia Jafri, whose husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was killed during the 2002 riots.

The plea alleged a “larger conspiracy” behind the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat involving the then chief minister Narendra Modi. The court upheld the clean chit to Modi and 63 others by a special investigation team (SIT).

In its judgment, the SC observed, “At the end of the day, it appears to us that a coalesced effort of the disgruntled officials of the State of Gujarat along with others was to create sensation by making revelations which were false to their own knowledge.

“The falsity of their claims had been fully exposed by the SIT after a thorough investigation … As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceed in accordance with law.”

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 that claimed 59 lives.

The riots that it triggered killed 1,044 people, mostly Muslims. Giving details, the Central government informed the Rajya Sabha in May 2005 that 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims were killed in the post-Godhra riots.

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