The Supreme Court today granted interim bail to activist Teesta Setalvad in a case filed against her by the Gujarat Police, alleging that she fabricated documents to file cases concerning the Gujarat riots of 2002. Setalvad, who has been in custody since June 26 this year, has been asked to surrender her passport till the Gujarat High Court decides on the case against her.
Hearing the case today, a bench led by Chief Justice of India UU Lalit and comprising Justices Chief Justice U.U. Lalit, Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia noted that Teesta, being a woman has been in custody for over two months now, including the seven-day window of custodial interrogation.
According to Live Law, the top court further noted that the offences alleged against Teesta pertain to the year 2002 and at best, the concerned documents were sought to be presented till 2012. The court said that since all essential ingredients pertaining to the investigation had been completed, it was of the view that the petitioner be granted relief.
“In our view, the appellant is entitled to the release on interim bail,” the court said, clarifying that the court was only considering whether Setalvad’s custody was necessary during the consideration of matter by the Gujarat High Court.
“We have considered the matter only from the standpoint of interim bail and we shall not be taken to have expressed anything on the merits of the submission advanced on behalf of the appellant. The entire matter on merits shall be considered by the High Court independently and uninfluenced by any observations made by this court,” it added.
Teesta moved Supreme Court after the Gujarat HC refused to grant her interim bail. Arrested on June 26 from Mumbai, the Gujarat ATS has charged her under Sections 468, 194, 211 and 218 r/w 120B IPC. Her arrest came a day after the Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by Zakia Jafri challenging the SIT’s clean chit to several high-ranking state officials as well as then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in a case of an alleged larger conspiracy in the 2002 communal riots in the state.