Supreme Court to hear activist Teesta Setalvad's bail plea on August 30
The Supreme Court Thursday said it would hear on August 30 the bail plea by activist Teesta Setalvad, arrested for allegedly fabricating evidence to frame "innocent people" in the 2002 Gujarat riots cases.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Gujarat, told a bench headed by Justice U U Lalit that a response to Setalvad's petition is ready but it requires some corrections.
The bench, also comprising Justices S R Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia, said that the response to the petition be filed by August 27.
"He (Mehta) submits that a response to the petition is ready but needs further corrections. He assures the court that the response shall be filed on or before Saturday. The rejoinder, if any, be filed by Monday (August 29)," the bench said, adding the matter would be taken up for hearing as the first item on August 30.
As Mehta was seeking time to file a reply, the bench observed that the point is that she is behind the bars.
The solicitor general said she is in custody according to law and requested the bench that the matter can be taken up for a hearing on coming Monday.
However, Justice Lalit, who will become the Chief Justice of India on August 27, "In principle, we have decided that on a miscellaneous day (Monday and Friday), let there be as many courts as possible. So if we are going to be 30 judges in number from Monday onwards there will be 15 courts."
"We know the difficulty but we will list it as the first time on Tuesday," the bench told senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing for Setalvad.
On August 22, the apex court sought a response from the Gujarat government on the bail plea of Setalvad, who was arrested in June in the case.
The Gujarat High Court, 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.
Sibal had told the apex court on August 22 that allegations in the FIR are recitation of proceedings that had happened and culminated in the judgement of the apex court on a petition filed by Zakia Jafri.
He had argued that the genesis of the case emanates from the apex court order and that is why the FIR has been filed.
The top court had on June 24 dismissed a plea filed by Zakia Jafri, the wife of former Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri who was killed in Ahmedabad during the riots, triggered by the torching of a coach of Sabarmati Express by a mob near Godhra station on February 27, 2002.
As many as 59 passengers were charred to death in the incident.
A sessions court at Ahmedabad, 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.
Setalvad and former Director General of Police (DGP) R B Sreekumar, both arrested in June, are accused of fabricating evidence to frame "innocent people" in the post-Godhra riots cases.
They are lodged in the Sabarmati central jail. Sreekumar has also moved the high court for bail.
Former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, the third accused in the case, has not applied for bail. Bhatt was already in jail for another criminal matter when he was arrested in this case.
They were arrested by the Ahmedabad city crime branch in June after a First Information Report (FIR) was registered against them under Indian Penal Code sections 468 (forgery for cheating) and 194 (fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction for capital offences).
Mumbai-based Setalvad and Sreekumar were arrested within a couple of days after the Supreme Court on June 24 dismissed a petition filed by Zakia Jafri.