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Teesta Setalvad Granted Interim Bail By SC In Gujarat Riots Probe, Passport To Be Seized

A bench headed by Chief Justice UU Lalit, asked Teesta Setlvad to submit her passport, till the Gujarat High Court comes up with a verdict on her bail.

Teesta Setalvad

Image: PTI

The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim bail to activist Teesta Setalvad in the 2002 Gujarat riots probe. A bench headed by Chief Justice UU Lalit asked Setlvad to submit her passport, till her regular bail hearing is held by the Gujarat High Court. She was arrested on June 23 for alleged fabrication of documents to file cases after the Gujarat riots. 

"In our view, the appellant is entitled to the release on interim bail. It must be stated that the matter is still pending consideration before High Court. We are therefore not considering whether the appellant be released on bail or not. That is to be considered by the High Court. We are considering only from the standpoint of whether the custody of the appellant must be insisted upon during the consideration of the matter," the bench said in the order. 

Appearing on behalf of the state of Gujarat, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the application for bail is pending consideration before the High Court, and as such the matter must be allowed to be considered by the High Court rather than entertaining the instant challenge. 

Kapil Sibal, appearing for Setalvad, however, argued that the facts in the case were just a repetition of the June 24 order of the Supreme Court. "All these cases, they have targeted me, from the very beginning. I am the number one enemy of the State. But who can be more powerful than the state? She is a 60-year-old lady. What can she do?" he said. 

Teesta Setlvad case 

On June 24, Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, whose husband and former Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri was killed during the riots in Ahmedabad, challenging the SIT's clean chit to 64 people in the riots, including the then chief minister Narendra Modi. The bench while dismissing the plea, had said that there was coalesced effort by Setalvad and other accused- former Director General of Police R B Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt to create a sensation by making 'revelations that were false to their own knowledge'. 

Subsequently, an FIR was registered against them under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 468 (forgery for cheating) and 194 (fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction for capital offences). While Bhatt was already in jail for another criminal matter, Setalvad and Sreekumar were arrested within days of the registration of the FIR. They are lodged in the Sabarmati central jail. 

An Ahmedabad sessions court had 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.

The Gujarat High Court had 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. 

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