‘Is this standard practice in Gujarat?’: SC questions delay in Teesta Setalvad’s bail hearing The Week

02, Sep 2022

Top court to hear the case at 2 pm on Friday

As per Section 437 mandate, a lady is entitled to favourable treatment, says top court
As per Section 437 mandate, a lady is entitled to favourable treatment, says top court

The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned the conduct of the Gujarat High Court in deferring the bail petition of activist Teesta Setalvad by six weeks after issuing notice in the case. The High Court had issued notice on August 3 and posted the matter for further hearing on September 19.

“Is this standard practice in Gujarat?,” a visibly displeased top court asked and directed the state to inform it by 2 pm on Friday about whether such a precedent existed there.

A bench comprising Chief Justice U.U. Lalit and justices S. Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia posted the plea of Setalvad for further hearing on Friday.

“Give us instances where a lady accused in such cases has got such dates from high court. Either this lady has been made an exception….How can the court give this date?,” the CJI asked.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state of Gujarat, responded, saying no lady has committed similar type of offence. After Mehta said he wanted to argue more in the case, the court posted the case for further hearing at 2 pm on Friday.

The CJI observed that Setlvad has been under custody for over two months and that the FIR against her was registered on the very next day of the Supreme Court dismissing Zakia Jafri’s petition challenging clean chit to then chief minister Narendra Modi.

“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 offences of 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 the investigators from conducting an investigation without custody… and over and above that, she is a lady,” the CJI said.

And as per Section 437 mandate, a lady is entitled to favourable treatment, he noted.

Setalvad, along with former Director General of Police R.B. Sreekumar, was arrested for allegedly fabricating evidence to frame “innocent people” in the 2002 Gujarat riots cases. They are lodged in the Sabarmati central jail.

An Ahmedabad sessions court had on July 30 rejected the bail applications of Setalvad and Sreekumar, saying that if they were released, it will send a message to wrongdoers that a person can level allegations with impunity and get away with it. Following this, Setalvad approached the high court.

The original piece may be read here


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