New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim bail to activist Teesta Setalvad, who was arrested for allegedly fabricating documents to frame high-ranking officials, including then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, in the 2002 riots cases in the state.
A bench headed by Chief Justice U.U. Lalit and justices S. Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia said that since the essential custodial interrogation is complete, the matter of interim bail should have been heard, and noted that her bail plea is still pending before the Gujarat High Court.
“We grant Teesta Setalvad interim bail,” the bench said.
The top court asked the high court to decide her bail plea, but in the meantime Setalvad will be out on interim bail. She had moved the apex court after the Gujarat High Court made a long adjournment on her bail plea while not passing any order of interim bail.
The Supreme Court also directed Setalvad to surrender her passport in the trial court and made it clear that the high court will decide her regular bail plea without being influenced by its order.
During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Gujarat government, urged the apex court not to set a “very bad precedent” by giving extraordinary treatment to Setalvad, when the high court is already seized of the case.
The top court noted that she has been in custody since June 25 and the investigating machinery had the advantage of her custodial interrogation of seven days followed by judicial custody.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court had expressed concern that the Gujarat High Court, on the bail plea of Setalvad, issued notice returnable by six weeks and asked the Gujarat government to bring on record the details of the cases where in a matter involving a lady, the high court gave such a long adjournment.