The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to Gujarat government on the bail plea by activist Teesta Setalvad, after she was arrested for allegedly fabricating documents to frame high ranking officials, including then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots cases in the state.
A bench headed by Justice U.U. Lalit agreed to examine Setalvad’s bail plea and scheduled the case for further hearing on Thursday. Setalvad was represented by senior advocate Kapil Sibal and advocate Aparna Bhat in the apex court. “Considering facts and circumstances, let the notice be returnable on Thursday… Liberty to serve standing counsel for the state,” said the top court.
Earlier this month, the Gujarat High Court had issued notice to the SIT seeking a reply to bail applications filed by Setalvad and former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) R.B. Sreekumar. The high court is scheduled to hear the matter in September. In her appeal before the apex court, Setalvad has taken objection to a long gap of one-and-a-half-month in the hearing of her bail application, and cited the ruling of top court in Satendar Kumar Antil vs. CBI, contended that bail matters must be heard expeditiously.
In July, a session court in Ahmedabad declined to grant bail to her and Sreekumar. Rejecting the bail application, the court noted: “If the applicants — accused are enlarged on bail then it would impliedly encourage to the wrong doers that in-spite of such type of accusations against the then Chief Minister and others, the Court has enlarged the accused on bail. Therefore, looking at the above facts and circumstances, even though the applicant is a lady and another is a retired IPS officer and aged person, they are not required to be enlarged on bail.”
On June 24, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal filed by Zakia Jafri, wife of Congress leader Ehsan Jafri who was killed during the violence at Ahmedabad’s Gulberg Society in 2002, challenging the SIT’s clean chit to the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others during the riots in the state.
A bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said intriguingly, the present proceedings have been pursued for last 16 years (from submission of complaint dated June 8, 2006 running into 67 pages and then by filing 514-page protest petition dated April 15, 2013), including with the audacity to question the integrity of every functionary involved in the process of exposing the devious stratagem adopted. “To keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design. As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law,” said the top court.