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Activist Teesta Setalvad gets bail, these things worked in her favor

The Supreme Court has granted bail to activist Teesta Setalvad in a case involving alleged fabrication of evidence during 2002 Gujarat riots.

By Ground report
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Activist Teesta Setalvad gets bail, these things worked in her favor

The Supreme Court has granted bail to activist Teesta Setalvad in a case involving the alleged fabrication of evidence during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Teesta Setalvad was accused of fabricating documents to implicate officials of the then Gujarat government, led by former Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The high court declared the Gujarat High Court's order denying him bail "perverse" and "contradictory".

Activist Teesta Setalvad gets bail

A court consisting of Justices BR Gavai, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Dipankar Datta quashed the Gujarat High Court order and stated that custodial interrogation of the petitioner is not necessary as the charge sheet in the case has already been filed. Earlier, the Gujarat High Court had rejected Teesta Setalvad's request for regular bail and ordered him to "surrender immediately".

However, she obtained a provisional bond from the high court in September of the previous year, which was later extended to July 19.

Lead counsel Kapil Sibal, the petitioner's attorney, argued that Teesta Setalvad was not involved in any criminal activity and that the allegations against her were unfounded. He challenged the adversarial approach of the Gujarat High Court in his order, and the court also noted the same, noting the self-inconsistency in the order.

High Court's conflicting approach observations

"The apex court quoted by LiveLaw said, 'We quash and set aside the Gujarat High Court's order... We shall extend the protection granted to her by this court. The custody of the passport will be maintained. The petitioner shall not attempt to influence witnesses.'"

After considering the arguments, the Supreme Court granted Teesta Setalvad bail, on the condition that she did not attempt to influence or intimidate witnesses.

The bench observed, "It is quite fascinating to read the judge's order as, on one hand, the judge dedicates numerous pages to explain why it is unnecessary and impermissible to assess whether a prima facie case has been established during the bail stage."

Who is Teesta Setalvad?

Teesta Setalvad is an Indian civil rights activist and journalist, born on February 9, 1962. She currently serves as the secretary of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), an organization dedicated to defending the victims of the Gujarat riots. from 2002.

Born into a Gujarati family, Teesta is the daughter of Atul Setalvad, a Mumbai lawyer, and Sita Setalvad. Her grandfather, M. C. Setalvad, was the first Attorney General of India. Teesta is married to Javed Anand, a journalist turned minority rights activist, and they have two children, a daughter and a son.

Teesta began her career as a journalist after being inspired by the book "All the President's Men" which she got as a gift from her father. She worked for The Daily (India) and The Indian Express newspapers and later for Business India magazine. In 1993, in response to the Mumbai riots, she and her husband decided to leave mainstream journalism and start Communalism Combat, a monthly magazine that gave them a platform to intervene on social issues. Later, they transitioned into the digital domain with a website.

In April 2002, Teesta, along with others, established the NGO "Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP)" to litigate the alleged complicity of the Gujarat state government in the riots. The Supreme Court of India transferred the "Best Bakery case" to Maharashtra and ordered a new investigation and trial, partially conceding their efforts.

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