Teesta Setalvad Case: Apex Court Grants Activist an Interim Bail

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Teesta Setalvad Case: Apex Court Grants Activist an Interim Bail; questioned HC for prolonged detention

| Updated: September 2, 2022 18:13

A bench led by the Chief Justice of India, hon’ble Uday Umesh Lalit, granted an interim bail to the Indian civil rights activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad on Friday, September 2, 2022 questioning the motives of Gujarat High Court for her detention of over two months.

Setalvad was in jail since June for her alleged conspiracy to ‘destabilise the government’ post 2002 Gujarat riots, has been granted interim bail by the Supreme Court.

Earlier, she had made an appeal to the High Court, but on August 3, it postponed the matter to six weeks later that eventually led the apex court to question its move behind the delay.

Although her plea for regular bail will continue to be heard by the Gujarat High Court. 

The bench led by hon’ble UU Lalit asserted, “The HC ought to have considered the plea for interim bail during the pendency of the matter. It’s a matter of record that the (Ms Setalvad) was remanded to police custody for seven days and investigated everyday by the police… (and she) continues to remain in judicial custody (in Gujarat).”

After working on all the bail formalities (submission of her passport that needs to be produced before the court), Setalvad will be released on an interim bail.

Earlier, the court said on Wednesday had said that it was struck by the fact that Ms. Setalvad was detained for over two months on just the basis of a complaint that barely recited the adverse remarks presented by the court against her.

“These are not offences like Sections 302 or 307 (murder, attempt to murder). These offences are particularly based on documents… and this happens to be the case of a lady,” opposed CJI.

The CJI had also stressed the fact and called, “She is a lady. How did the high court issue notice returnable after six weeks? Is that the standard practice in Gujarat High Court? And give us instances where a lady is involved in a case like this and the High Court has made it (notice on bail plea) returnable by six weeks.”

The bench, which included Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia along had raised several questions related to Ms Setalvad’s custodial detention, earlier this Wednesday.

Teesta Setalvad has been in custody since June 25 over allegations that she falsified documents to file cases related to the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Meanwhile, during the proceedings, the Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta had sought an adjournment by saying, “All these arguments should be made in the High Court and not in the Supreme Court. That’s my preliminary objection.”

Whereas, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, the counsel for Ms Setalvad affirmed, “I am challenging the FIR. There cannot be an FIR here. The FIR doesn’t disclose what’s the document I forged.”

The Gujarat’s Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) had detained Mumbai-based activist Setalvad in connection with an FIR filed in Ahmedabad alleging ‘criminal conspiracy, forgery and placing false evidence in court to frame innocent people’ in the Gujarat riots case happened in 2002.

Just a day before, the Supreme Court had dismissed a plea challenging SIT’s clean chit to the then CM of Gujarat Narendra Modi and others related to the case.

The Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah had hit back and questioned about the ‘baseless information’ on 2002 riots provided by the NGO supported by the activist.

Padma Shri recipient Teesta Setalvad is a founding trustee and secretary of the NGO ‘Citizens for Justice and Peace’ (CJP). The NGO was established after 2002 Gujarat riots aiming to provide legal and financial support to the victims of the riots.

Setalvad and her co-petitioner Zakia Jafri (wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was killed during the riots) had filed a petition together against PM Modi and others in the Supreme Court.

Activist Setalvad had become a renowned face for her stand against the victims of the riots that took place in 2002. She had pushed the apex court to launch a fresh investigation into the case.  

Besides, the activist was stormed with several charges including allegedly hurting religious feelings, fabricating false evidence, and trespassing on burial places and many others.

The leading BJP party attacked Setalvad for framing PM Narendra Modi without substantial evidence and held several protests against her.

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