The Supreme Court on Thursday, 25 August, deferred the bail plea hearing of activist Teesta Setalvad in the 2002 Gujarat riots conspiracy case to Tuesday, 30 August, after the Gujarat government sought more time to file its reply.
The court had on Monday issued notice to the state government in Setalvad's bail plea and had scheduled the case for Thursday.
The state's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has alleged falsification of records by Setalvad in a bid to implicate high state functionaries in connection with the riots.
"Considering the facts and circumstances of the case on record, let notice be made returnable on Thursday (25 August)," the court had said in its order, granting liberty to serve standing counsel for state.
The case, incidentally, was registered in the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court's dismissal of the plea filed by slain former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri's wife Zakia Jafri, which had challenged the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe in the Gujarat riots case.
Not only did the top court, in their 24 June order, uphold SIT’s clean chit to Prime Minister (and former Gujarat CM) Narendra Modi and several others, but they also cast aspersions about there being a “coalesced effort” and “devious stratagem adopted to keep the pot boiling” for “ulterior design.”
The next morning, Home Minister Amit Shah alleged in an interview that Setalvad's NGO had spread "baseless" information regarding the 2002 Gujarat riots, and within hours she was detained and subsequently arrested.
Setalvad has been booked under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC):
468 IPC: Forgery for purpose of cheating
471 IPC: Using as genuine a forged document or electronic record
194 IPC: Giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence
211 IPC: False charge of offence made with intent to injure
218 IPC: Public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture
120 B IPC: Punishment of criminal conspiracy
In her bail plea, Setalvad's lawyer had said, "The petitioner strongly believes that she has been targeted by the state as she raised critical issues before this Court challenging the administration."
Since Setalvad’s arrest in June, her application for bail has been rejected by an Ahmedabad court (on 30 July), while the Gujarat High Court (3 August) had merely issued notice to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) seeking its response to her plea and listed the matter for further hearing on 19 September.