Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of BR Gavai, AS Bopanna and Dipankar Datta, JJ has stayed the Gujarat High Court order rejecting Activist Teesta Setalvad's plea for regular bail in the case relating to alleged fabrication of evidence in relation to the 2002 Gujarat riots. The Gujarat High Court had directed her to surrender immediately.
The 3-judge bench assembled on Saturday night to decide the issue and after observing that in ordinary circumstances, it would not have considered such a request, it took note of the fact that Setalvad was a lady and as such entitled to special protection under Section 437 Cr.P.C.
The Court, hence, observed that the Gujarat High Court ought to have granted at least some protection so that Setalvad has sufficient time to challenge the order before the Supreme Court.
Hence, without considering anything on merits of the matter, finding that the Gujarat High Court was not correct in granting even some protection, the Court granted stay of the impugned order passed by the High Court for a period of one week.
Earlier in the day, the special bench of AS Oka and Prashant Kumar, JJ was unable to reach a consensus on the grant of interim relief to Setalvad which led to the Chief Justice of India constituting a 3-judge bench to decide the issue.
In the matter at hand, Teesta Setalvad, a Mumbai- based Civil Rights activist was arrested by Gujarat Police on June 2022, on an FIR filed by Ahmedabad Crime Branch for allegedly conspiring to falsely implicate innocent people and fabricating false evidence in relation to the 2002 Gujarat riots. Setalvad was released from Judicial custody by way of interim bail granted by the Supreme Court in September 2022. The charge sheet filed against her, alleged that Setalvad, had conspired to implicate the then Chief Minister (now Prime Minister Narendra Modi) and higher officials of the State Government and top leaders of the BJP for the large-scale deaths due to the 2002 communal riots.
[Teesta Atul Setalvad v. State of Gujarat, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 759, order dated 01-07-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For Petitioner(s) Mr. C.U. Singh, Sr. Adv. Ms. Aparna Bhat, AOR Ms. Karishma Maria, Adv. Mr. Nizam Pasha, Adv.
For Respondent(s) Mr. Tushar Mehta, SG Mr. S.V. Raju,ASG Ms. Swati Ghildiyal, AOR Mr. Kanu Agrwal, Adv. Mr. Madhav Sinhal,Adv.