SC protects Setalvad from arrest, stays Gujarat HC order for a week

New Delhi: The Supreme Court late Saturday night protected social activist Teesta Setalvad from arrest and stayed for a week the Gujarat High Court order rejecting her plea for regular bail and asking her to surrender immediately in a case of alleged fabrication of evidence to frame innocent people in 2002 post-Godhra riot cases.

In a special late-night hearing, a bench of Justices B R Gavai, A S Bopanna and Dipankar Datta questioned the denial of time to Setalvad to appeal against the HC order, saying even an ordinary criminal is entitled to some form of interim relief.

The three-judge bench heard the matter in a special sitting after a two-judge vacation bench differed on granting interim protection from arrest to Setalvad.

“After having heard this Special Leave Petition for some time, we are unable to agree while deciding the prayer for interim relief. Therefore, it will be appropriate if, under the orders of the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India, this petition is placed before the appropriate larger Bench.

“The Registrar (Judicial) is directed to place this order immediately before the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India,” the two-judge bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Prashant Kumar Mishra said earlier in the evening.

Setalvad approached the apex court for relief soon after the Gujarat High Court rejected her regular bail plea.   Justice Nirzar Desai directed her to surrender immediately as she is out of jail after having secured interim bail from the apex court in September last year.

The Supreme Court is closed for the summer vacation and will reopen on Monday.