New Delhi: Hearing Teesta Setalvad’s appeal against the Gujarat high court’s order for her to “surrender immediately”, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court has extended the activist’s interim bail until July 19.
The bench comprising Justices B.R. Gavai, A.S. Bopanna and Dipankar Datta listed Setalvad’s appeal for final disposal on July 19 and sought the Gujarat high court’s response by then, Bar and Bench reported.
“Whatever documents parties want to place on record shall be filed prior to July 15 after exchanging with each other. Interim order to continue until further orders,” the bench said on Wednesday, July 5 according to news agency PTI.
Setalvad was granted interim bail by the apex court on July 1 against the Gujarat HC’s order a day earlier asking her to surrender immediately in a case which alleges that she was part of a conspiracy to send implicate innocent persons in the 2002 Gujarat violence cases.
A single-judge bench of the high court, headed by Justice Nirzar Desai, had rejected Setalvad’s plea for regular bail and turned down a request made by her lawyer requesting a 30-day stay on the judgment so she could move the Supreme Court.
The high court said that Setalvad had tried to “implicate innocent persons” and “unsettle the government … with an intention to tarnish the image of the then-Hon’ble Chief Minister [Narendra Modi] and thereby to send him to jail and compel him to resign”, PTI reported.
“Prima facie, this court is of the view that, today, if the applicant like this is enlarged on bail, that will deepen and widen the communal polarisation,” the court reasoned.
The Supreme Court bench disagreed with the high court’s sense of urgency around Setalvad’s surrender.
“What is the urgency in taking her into custody? Will the skies fall if interim protection is granted for some days? We are taken by surprise by what the high court has done … Even common criminals are granted interim relief,” Justice Gavai said according to LiveLaw.
The activist, who was involved in helping survivors of the violence file legal cases, was arrested last year from her Mumbai home by Gujarat’s Anti-Terror Squad. The development came a day after the Supreme Court rejected a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, the widow of slain Congress leader and former MP Ehsan Jafri, challenging the SIT’s ‘clean chit’ to Modi and other top political and administrative leaders regarding alleged involvement in the violence.
The Supreme Court not only disposed of the appeal but claimed that Setalvad was among “those who had kept the pot boiling” with an “ulterior motive” for the past 16 years. It added that she should be in the dock and be “proceeded with in accordance with the law”.
She spent around 70 days in jail but was later granted bail by the top court.