Activist Teesta Setalvad to face trial in grave-digging case from 2005

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New Delhi. July 10: The Supreme Court on Monday ordered activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand to face trial in the Pandarwada grave digging case.

Teesta Setalvad

The case dates back to 2005 when about 28 bodies of victimes of the 2002 Gujarat riot victims were exhumed from graveyards in the state's Pandarwada and surrounding villages in Khanpur taluk. This took place after relatives of over 40 people killed in two separate incidents at Pandarwada in Panchmahal district during the riots had asked the authorities to hand over the bodies of their kin.

In 2011, Setalvad was named in the FIR in the case filed by the Lunawada Police as an "absconding accused", after which she had approached the Gujarat High Court for relief.

A co-ordinator of Setalvad's NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace, Rais Khan, had alleged after his arrest in the case that the graves had been dug up on her orders. But Setalvad had argued that instead of naming her a witness, the state was implicating her in the case because of her work to help victims of the Gujarat riots.

Misappropriation of funds case

The Supreme Court also rejected an appeal from Teesta Setalvad for relief from charges of corruption and misappropriation of funds meant for rehabilitation of Gujarat riot victims.

The apex court earlier on July 5 reserved its order on Setalvad's plea regarding de-freezing of her bank account and the NGOs.

A division bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Dipak Misra and comprising Justice AM Khanwilkar, was hearing the arguments.

The Gujarat Government told the apex court that Setalvad had allegedly spent NGO money meant for secular education for her personal purpose, including liquor consumption.

Setalvad, rejected the Gujarat Government's allegation and told the court that the state government was harassing her and wanted to paralyze her activities.

She told the apex court, "Only Rs. 7,850 were spent on liquor over seven years and the expenditure was approved by the Ford Foundation which donated money. Is it a crime?"

Teesta, her husband and the two NGOs - Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace - approached the apex court challenging the October 7, 2015, verdict of the Gujarat High Court, which had rejected their pleas for de-freezing their personal bank accounts.

Oneindia News (with agency inputs)

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