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'Gujarat HC Order Perverse': SC Grants Bail To Teesta Setalvad in Riots Case

The Gujarat High Court had rejected her regular bail plea and ordered her to “surrender immediately.”

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 19 July, granted regular bail to activist Teesta Setalvad in a case connected to the 2002 Gujarat riots. Setalvad has been accused of allegedly fabricating documents to implicate government functionaries.

Where this comes from: While granting her bail, the top court quashed and set aside the Gujarat High Court order that had rejected her regular bail plea and ordered her to “surrender immediately.”

SC Pulls Up Gujarat HC: "If the observation of the learned judge (of the Gujarat High Court) are to be accepted, no application for bail can be accepted unless the accused files an application for quashing the procedings...To say the least, the findings are totally perverse," the bench said.

"On the other hand, the learned judge goes on to discuss the statements of some witnesses and finds that prima facie case is made out. The findings are totally contradictory, to say the least," the bench added..

The Special Saturday Hearing: In a late evening hearing, on Saturday, 1 July, a bench of Justices BR Gavai, AS Bopanna and Dipankar Dutta had granted interim relief to Setalvad.

As per Bar and Bench, the apex court said:

"We find that taking into consideration this fact, the learned single judge (of High Court) ought to have granted some time to the petitioner to challenge the order. In that view, we grant stay for one week. Registry to obtain orders from CJI for listing before appropriate bench."

On 5 July, the top court had extended till 19 July the interim relief granted to Setalvad.

Setalvad had moved the Supreme Court after the Gujarat High Court rejected her regular bail plea and ordered her to “surrender immediately.”

What Happened in SC Before this: Right before the 3-judge bench of the Supreme Court stayed the High Court order that evening, a special bench comprising Justices Abhay S Oka and Prashant Kumar Mishra, had heard her plea.

But when the two judges differed in their opinion, they referred the matter to Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, requesting him to place it before a larger bench, ANI reported.

Setalvad was out on interim bail in a case related to the 2002 post-Godhra riots for allegedly fabricating evidence “to frame innocent people.”

The case: Last year on 25 June, Gujarat Police had arrested Setalvad, following which she was sent to judicial custody, with former Director General of Police R B Sreekumar, who is a co-accused in the case. 

The Supreme Court, last year, had dismissed a plea by Zakia Jafri, wife of former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri. Jafri’s plea was against the Gujarat special investigation team that had given a clean chit to the then chief minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots.

However, the Supreme Court said that the plea had been filed for “ulterior design.” It also said:

“All those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceed in accordance with law.”

Following the apex court’s order, the Ahmedabad crime branch filed a First Information Report against Setalvad, Sreekumar and jailed former IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt, accusing them of fabricating evidence to implicate the then CM. 

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Teesta Setalvad 

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