New Delhi: The Supreme Court allowed the Gujarat government further time to file its response on a bail of activist Teesta Setalvad arrested for allegedly fabricating documents to frame high-ranking officials, including then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots cases on August 25, Thursday.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Gujarat government, submitted that the government’s response was ready but it needs some modification. A bench headed by Justice U.U. Lalit observed that somebody is behind the bars and the court would have to examine whether further incarceration is needed in the matter. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the petitioner, submitted that any extra day’s incarceration is wrong.
After hearing arguments, the top court scheduled the matter for further hearing on Tuesday. Setalvad, along with former senior police officers R.B. Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhat, were arrested after a criminal case was lodged by the Gujarat ATS at Ahmedabad.
Earlier this month, the Gujarat High Court had issued notice to the SIT seeking a reply to bail applications filed by Setalvad and former state Director General of Police 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 v. CBI, contending 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 imply encourage 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 Chief Minister Modi and others during the riots in the state.
A bench, headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar (now retired) said “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 proceed with in accordance with law,” it said.