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Teesta Setalvad gets interim protection from SC, hours after Gujarat HC asked her to surrender

The Supreme Court, on Saturday granted interim security to activist Teesta Setalvad, whose regular bail was rejected by the Gujarat High Court today in a case of alleged fabrication of evidence in relation to the 2002 Gujarat riots. The high court had asked her to surrender immediately.

A bench of Justices BR Gavai, AS Bopanna and Dipankar Datta started hearing the plea at a special sitting at 9.15 pm. The top court posted the matter before a regular bench and granted Setalvad interim bail till then.

Setalvad had approached the SC challenging the HC order.

Earlier in the evening, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court had referred Teesta’s plea. The bench of Justices A S Oka and P K Mishra said after the hearing, “There is a disagreement between us on the question of grant of interim protection to her. So we request the Chief Justice to assign this matter to a larger bench,” held only hours after the Gujarat HC laid off her prayer for bail.

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The Gujarat High Court had observed that granting her bail would “deepen and widen communal polarisation” at a time when “we are heading towards progress of the country with an effort to strengthen communal harmony and brotherhood,” rejecting Setalvad’s bail plea.

Why is Setalvad accused?

Setalvad is accused of fabricating evidence linked to the 2002 Gujarat riots. The court of Justice Nirzar Desai observed that she had filed “false affidavits” to “unsettle a democratically elected government” and “disrepute the image of the then CM, Modi ” and “thereby to send him to jail and compel him to resign”.

The court directed Setalvad, who is currently out on interim bail, to “surrender immediately”, rejecting her lawyer’s request to stay the operation of the verdict for 30 days.

Setalvad was arrested by the Gujarat police on June 25, 2022 on an FIR filed by the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) for allegedly conspiring to falsely implicate innocent persons in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots. She was kept in police remand for seven days and was sent to judicial custody on July 2.

Her arrest, along with that of co-accused in the case, former IPS officer R B Sreekumar, came just a day after the Supreme Court, on June 24, dismissed a plea filed by Zakia Jafri, wife of slain Congress MP Ahsan Jafri, against the Special Investigation Team’s clean chit to Modi and others over allegations of conspiracy in the riots. She was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court on September 2, 2022.

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