New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Saturday granted activist Teesta Setalvad a week’s protection from arrest by staying a Gujarat High Court order directing her to surrender immediately.
Setalvad was asked to “surrender immediately” by the Gujarat High Court on in a case linked to the 2002 Gujarat riots after rejecting her bail plea earlier on Saturday.
The Supreme Court gave her interim protection in a decision that came at 10 p.m. on Saturday .
Justices Abhay S. Oka and Prashant Kumar Mishra, who first heard the matter in a special hearing, urged the Chief Justice of India, D.Y. Chandrachud, to assign the case to a larger bench as the two judges were unable to agree on a decision.
Setalvad has been on interim bail since September last year, but she faces arrest if the Supreme Court does not ‘overrule’ the high court order.
Setalvad, based out of Mumbai, has been facing allegations of fabricating evidence in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The court’s decision comes after Setalvad was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court in September 2022, which had protected her from arrest until now.
Following the verdict by Justice Nirzar Desai of the Gujarat High Court, senior advocate Mihir Thakore requested the court to stay the verdict’s operation for 30 days. However, the request was rejected by Justice Desai.
Notably, Setalvad was arrested on June 25, 2022 by the Gujarat Police based on an FIR filed by the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB).
The charges against her include conspiring to falsely implicate innocent individuals in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots. After seven days in police remand, she was sent to judicial custody on July 2.
Setalvad’s arrest, along with that of co-accused former IPS R.B. Sreekumar, followed the Supreme Court’s dismissal of a plea by Zakia Jafri, wife of slain Congress MP Ahsan Jafri.
The plea challenged the Special Investigation Team’s clean chit to then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others regarding allegations of conspiracy in the riots.
In its verdict, the Supreme Court noted that the proceedings were pursued to “keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design” and emphasised the need for all those involved in such abuse of process to face legal consequences. (IANS)