The Supreme Court has granted regular bail to Teesta Setalvad in the case relating to alleged fabrication of evidence to frame innocent people in the 2002 post-Godhra riots cases.

A three-judge bench of Justice B R Gavai, Justice A S Bopanna and Justice Dipankar Datta set aside the order of the Gujarat High Court rejecting her plea for regular bail.

The Court noted that the charge sheet has been filed in the case against Setalvad and her custodial interrogation is not necessary.

"The passport of the appellant already surrendered will be in custody of session court. The appellant shall not make any attempt to influence witnesses and shall stay away from them," the bench ordered.

The bench also granted the Gujarat Police liberty to directly move the Apex Court if an attempt is made to influence witnesses in the case.

Setalvad was taken into custody on June 25 last year along with former Gujarat Director General of Police R B Sreekumar and ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in a case registered by the Ahmedabad crime branch police for allegedly fabricating evidence to frame innocent people in the post-Godhra riots cases.

An Ahmedabad sessions court had on July 30, 2022 rejected the bail applications of Setalvad and Sreekumar, saying their release will send a message to wrongdoers that a person can level allegations with impunity and get away with it.

The High Court had on August 3, 2022, issued a notice to the state government on the bail plea of Setalvad and fixed the matter for hearing on September 19. Meanwhile, she moved the Supreme Court (SC) for interim bail after the High Court refused to consider her plea.

The Court had on July 1, 2023, in a special hearing at around 9.25 pm, granted a stay of the impugned order passed by the High Court for a period of one week. It was noted that the Single Judge of the High Court ought to have granted at least some protection so that the petitioner had sufficient time to challenge the order.

Before the Apex Court, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta pointed out that such extraordinary efforts from the Apex Court were not called for in the matter. He had submitted that it should only do what it does when an ordinary citizen whose bail is rejected approaches the Court. Mehta said that an ordinary citizen who approaches the Court in appeal surrenders in compliance with the impugned order before challenging that order.

The High Court had noted that prima facie, Teesta has exploited the feelings of minorities by provoking them and manipulating things.

The Supreme Court on September 2, 2022, granted an interim bail to Setalvad and directed the High Court to finally decide the matter.

Cause Title: Teesta Atul Setalvad v. State of Gujarat Special Leave Petition (Criminal) Diary No. 25725/2023

With PTI inputs