SC defers Teesta Setalvad’s bail plea to Thursday

August 30, 2022 10:30 pm | Updated 10:30 pm IST - New Delhi

Gujarat government alleged that the activist had conspired with a senior leader

Supreme court in New Delhi. File | Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Supreme Court deferred hearing a plea for bail filed by activist Teesta Setalvad to Thursday at 3 p.m.

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Ms. Setalvad is accused of fabricating evidence to frame high functionaries of the Gujarat government in a case related to the 2002 riots.

A Special Bench of Chief Justice U.U. Lalit, Justices S. Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia adjourned the case on Tuesday due to paucity of time. The case was originally listed at 3.45 p.m. but was delayed as the hearing in other cases spilled over.

The State of Gujarat has recently filed an affidavit saying that its investigation prima facie shows that activist Teesta Setalvad played a “major role” along with other persons in enacting a “larger conspiracy” for “oblique purposes” at the behest of a “senior leader of a political party”.

In an earlier hearing on August 25, the court had underscored that it would want to examine whether the incarceration of Ms. Setalvad was necessary.

Gujarat has maintained that she is in custody as per the law and there is nothing “special” about her case.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for Gujarat, had said Ms. Setalvad was in custody in “accordance with law”. He said the offence was serious and the petitioner had not exhausted her other legal remedies.

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 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".

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