The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted regular bail to human rights activist Teesta Setalvad in the Gujarat police case for alleged fabrication of evidence in the 2002 riots cases.
The Supreme Court while quashing the orders denying bail to Setalvad has ruled that the observations in the Gujarat High Court judgement refusing her bail are ‘perverse’ and ‘contradictory.’
On September 2, last year, the Supreme Court granted her interim bail on the grounds that she is a lady and the case dates back to 2002, with the majority of evidence being documented. These terms were judged to be valid even today, thus the court ordered her to stay out on bond.
Setalvad, along with ex-Gujarat director general of police RB Sreekumar and ex-IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt, was arrested on June 25 last year in an Ahmedabad Crime Branch case for allegedly forging evidence in the 2002 Gujarat riots case.
A special bench of Justices B.R. Gavai, A.S. Bopanna, and Dipankar Datta set aside the Gujarat High Court’s order denying her regular bail, deprecating its reasoning that a prima facie presumption of commission of an offence could be made against her if proceedings to quash criminal charges were not instituted by Setalvad.
While extending her regular bail, the apex court noted that the custodial interrogation of Setalvad is not required in the case as the charge sheet has already been filed before the trial court.
The Supreme Court also cautioned Setalvad to not make any attempt to influence witnesses related to the case. It clarified that the prosecution may directly approach the top court if she makes any such attempt or if there is any other change in circumstances.
Also, Setalvad’s passport will continue to remain deposited with the trial court while she is out on bail.
In a late evening special sitting convened on July 1, the apex court had granted her protection against arrest by staying the Gujarat High Court order of the same day.
Setalvad, who has been on interim bail since September last year, was asked by the Gujarat High Court to “surrender immediately” after rejecting her bail plea.
She was arrested on June 25, 2022 by the Gujarat Police based on an FIR filed by the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB). The charges against her include conspiring to falsely implicate innocent individuals in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots. After seven days in police custody, she was sent to judicial custody on July 2.
(With inputs from IANS)