The Supreme Court deferred to Thursday the hearing on the bail plea of activist Teesta Setalvad, arrested for allegedly fabricating evidence to frame “innocent people” in the 2002 Gujarat riots cases.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and justices S Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia, which was to take up the plea for hearing at 3.45 pm, adjourned the matter to September 1 due to paucity of time.
“Because of the paucity of time, the matter could not be taken up. List this matter at 3 pm on Thursday,” the bench said in its order.
In response to the bail plea, the Gujarat government has said that the activist had “enacted” the conspiracy along with other accused at the behest of a senior political leader.
The state government, in an affidavit, claimed that Setalvad had held meetings with the said political leader and received “large amounts of money”.
The affidavit, filed by the chief of the special investigation team (SIT) constituted to probe the case lodged in June this year, said the FIR was not solely based upon the June 24, 2022 judgement of the top court.
Prior to this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Gujarat, had told the bench that a response to Setalvad’s petition was ready and would be filed after some corrections.
On August 22, the apex court sought a response from the Gujarat government on the bail plea of Setalvad, who was arrested in June in the case.
The Gujarat High Court, on August 3, issued a notice to the state government on the bail plea of Setalvad and fixed the matter for hearing on September 19.
The top court had on June 24 dismissed a plea filed by Zakia Jafri, the wife of former Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri who was killed in Ahmedabad during the riots, triggered by the torching of a coach of Sabarmati Express by a mob near Godhra station on February 27, 2002.
Fifty-nine passengers were charred to death in the incident.
A sessions court at Ahmedabad, on July 30, rejected the bail applications of Setalvad and former Director General of Police R B Sreekumar in the case, 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.
Setalvad and former Director General of Police (DGP) R B Sreekumar, both arrested in June, are accused of fabricating evidence to frame “innocent people” in the post-Godhra riots cases.
They are lodged in the Sabarmati central jail. Sreekumar has also moved the high court for bail.
Former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, the third accused in the case, has not applied for bail. Bhatt was already in jail for another criminal matter when he was arrested in this case.
They were arrested by the Ahmedabad city crime branch in June after a First Information Report (FIR) was registered against them under Indian Penal Code sections 468 (forgery for cheating) and 194 (fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction for capital offences).
Mumbai-based Setalvad and Sreekumar were arrested within a couple of days after the Supreme Court on June 24 dismissed a petition filed by Zakia Jafri.