Supreme Court issues notice to Gujarat Govt on activist Teesta Setalvad’s bail plea The Hindu

22, Aug 2022

Social activist Teesta Setalvad at Metropolitan Magistrate Court in Ahmedabad on June 26, 2022. Social activist Teesta Setalvad at Metropolitan Magistrate Court in Ahmedabad on June 26, 2022. | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji
The Supreme Court on August 22 issued notice to the State of Gujarat on a plea for grant of interim bail to activist Teesta Setalvad, who is accused of fabricating evidence to frame high functionaries of the Gujarat Government in a case related to the 2002 riots.

A three-judge Bench led by Justice U.U. Lalit agreed to a request made by senior advocate Kapil Sibal and advocate Aparna Bhat, appearing for Ms. Setalvad, for an urgent listing and decision on the bail plea. The cour t posted the case for August 25 and assured the lawyers that it would hear the case on the day.

At the very beginning of the hearing, Justice Lalit asked Mr. Sibal whether there was any objection to him being part of the Bench as he had, in the past, appeared as a lawyer for some of the accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case.

“As far as we are concerned, we have no issue,” Mr. Sibal replied. The Bench recorded Mr. Sibal’s assent on behalf of his client and began hearing the case.

Mr. Sibal argued that the FIR registered in Ahmedabad, on which Ms. Setalvad had been arrested, was a mere “recitation” of observations made by the Supreme Court judgment in the Zakia Jafri case. “Nothing more has been alleged against the petitioner. Yet, she was taken into custody,” Mr. Sibal argued.

After a brief hearing, the court said it would take up the case quickly and without delay considering the facts and circumstances. The court listed the case on August 25.

In July, an Ahmedabad Sessions Court had refused bail to Ms. Setalvad and others in the case, observing that they had tried to “destabilise” the State Government and defame its top functionaries to serve ulterior motives. The Sessions Court had said that granting them bail would send the wrong message.

In early August, the Gujarat High Court had issued notice to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on a plea for bail by Ms. Setalvad and former Director-General of Police R.B. Sreekumar. The High Court had posted the case on September 19.

Ms. Setalvad has argued that bail matters should not be delayed and has to be heard expeditiously.

She was arrested in Mumbai on June 25 by the Gujarat ATS, a day after the Supreme Court dismissed allegations of “larger conspiracy” levelled by Zakia Jafri, widow of Congress leader Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the 2002 Gujarat riots, against former Chief Minister Narendra Modi and over 60 senior State officials.

In its judgment in the Jafri case, the apex court had snubbed petitioners like Ms. Setalvad, who had fought the case on the behalf of Ms. Jafri for decades. The top court had said the “protagonists of quest for justice sitting in a comfortable environment in their air-conditioned office may succeed in connecting failures of the State administration at different levels during such horrendous situation, little knowing or even referring to the ground realities and the continual effort put in by the duty holders in controlling the spontaneous evolving situation unfolding aftermath mass violence across the State”.

The judgment had said the false allegations against the State functionaries were the work of disgruntled officials. The top court had said that these officials should be in the dock for “keeping the pot boiling” and need to be proceeded against under the law.

The original piece may be read here


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