Activist Teesta Setalvad, in jail since June for alleged conspiracy to “destabilise the government” after the 2002 Gujarat riots, has been granted interim bail by the Supreme Court. She’d gone to the High Court, but on August 3 it posted the matter to six weeks later — something the top court didn’t particularly appreciate. Her plea for regular bail will continue to be heard by the Gujarat High Court.
“The HC ought to have considered the plea for interim bail during the pendency of the matter,” remarked the bench led by Chief Justice of India UU Lalit. “It’s a matter of record that the [Ms Setalvad] was remanded to police custody for seven days and investigated everyday by the police… (and she) continues to remain in judicial custody (in Gujarat),” the court said in the order.
She was arrested on June 26 this year, while the allegations relate to the 2002-12 period, the court noted. “The investigation agency has had the advantage of custodian interrogation for seven days.”
The court’s tone was consistent with its comments yesterday, when it said there is “no offence in this case over court which bail cannot be granted”, that too to a woman. Ms Setalvad was in jail for more than two months and yet no chargesheet has been filed, the judges said during the hearing on Thursday.
Ms Setalvad will now be released after the bail formalities — such as submission of her passport — for which she “should be produced before the concerned court as early as possible,” the bench ruled, saying that she must cooperate with the investigation.