NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Saturday night granted interim protection to social activist Teesta Setalvad, whose regular bail was rejected by the Gujarat High Court in a case of alleged fabrication of evidence in relation to the 2002 Gujarat riots. The high court had asked her to surrender immediately.
In a special sitting, a three-judge bench of Justices B R Gavai, A S Bopanna and Dipankar Datta stayed the order of the Gujarat High Court for seven days, which asked her to surrender immediately while rejecting her regular bail plea.
Granting interim protection from arrest for seven days to Setalvad, the bench said, “The single judge ought to have granted some time… We stay the order of the single bench for a period of one week”.
While giving the judgment, the Supreme Court observed, “We are sorry to say, the single judge was totally wrong in not granting interim protection even for one week. When this court has granted interim bail, extending it by a week would have been ideal”, the the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court observed.
The Solicitor General said that it’s not an ordinary case. “Somebody takes institutions for a joyride. The country and state were maligned for decades. She wrote to Geneva”, the SG said. The Supreme Court told Solicitor General, “Her conduct may be reprehensible, but today we are considering whether a person should be stripped of liberty even for a day?”
The Supreme Court further observed that she was on bail for 10 months and asked about the urgency in taking her into custody? “Will the skies fall if interim protection granted..? We are taken by surprise by what the High Court has done. What is the alarming urgency?” the Supreme Court asked.
In the evening Supreme Court’s two-judge bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Prashant Kumar Mishra differed on granting interim protection to her and referred the matter to Chief Justice of India to constitute a larger bench. (ANI)