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'No Offence That Can Prevent Teesta Setalvad's Bail:' CJI Lalit Slams Gujarat

The apex court, while coming down heavily on the Gujarat High court, adjourned the hearing till 2 September.

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Edited By :Padmashree Pande

The Supreme Court pointed out on Thursday, 1 September, while coming down heavily on the Gujarat government, that none of the alleged offences Teesta Setalvad was charged with could bar her from getting bail.

"There is no offence in this case which comes with a rider that bail cannot be granted like UAPA, POTA. These are normal IPC offences...These are not bodily offences, these are offences of documents filed in court. In these matters, normal idea is, after the initial period of police custody, there is nothing which stops investigators from probing without custody. And as per 468 mandate, a Lady is entitled to favourable treatment," observed Chief Justice of India (CJI) UU Lalit, as per LiveLaw.

A bench comprising CJI, Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia were hearing Setalvad plea, challenging Gujarat High Court's order which had denied her interim bail in the case.

Setalvad was arrested for allegedly fabricating evidence to frame "innocent people" in the 2002 Gujarat riots cases.

The apex court, while adjourning the matter till 2pm on Friday 2 September, also asked why the state's high court had given such a long adjournment in the case pertaining to the bail.

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'Not Serious Offences Like Murder or Bodily Injury'

"In a matter like this the High Court issues a notice on 3 August and makes it returnable by 19 September. Give us a case where a lady has been involved in a case like this and the court made it returnable by 6 weeks," asked the CJI, as per LiveLaw.

The court also asked why no charge sheet was filed although the petitioner has been in custody for over two months since 25 June.

It also pointed out that the FIR was filed soon after the Supreme Court dismissed Zakia Jafri's case and it was based on a complaint that cited the top court's judgment in Jafri's plea challenging the SIT probe in the Gujarat riots case.

Further, it said, the offences alleged are not serious like murder or bodily injury but pertain to alleged forgering of documents filed in court. The court also asserted that there was no offence that restrain her from getting bail.

Stating that offences alleged against Setalvad are "normal IPC offences," CJI Lalit orally said that there was no bar on the grant of bail.

Background

On 22 August, the apex court sought a response from the Gujarat government on the bail plea of Setalvad, who was arrested in June in the case.

The Gujarat High Court, on 3 August, issued a notice to the state government on the bail plea of Setalvad and fixed the matter for hearing on 19 September.

The top court had on 24 June dismissed a plea filed by Zakia Jafri, the wife of former Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri who was killed in Ahmedabad during the riots, triggered by the torching of a coach of Sabarmati Express by a mob near Godhra station on 27 February 2002.

Fifty-nine passengers were charred to death in the incident.

(With inputs from LiveLaw, PTI.)

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Edited By :Padmashree Pande
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