Supreme Court challenges High Court notice, adjourns tomorrow – Flying Journals

Activist Teesta Setalvad was arrested in June.

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned how the Gujarat High Court issued a notice requesting a response six weeks later, raising serious concerns about the way activist Teesta Setalvad was detained in Gujarat for more than two months.

The judges, led by Chief Justice UU Lalit of India, also observed that “there is no offence for which bail cannot be granted under the circumstances”, as did women. The judge said Ms Setalvad had been in jail for more than two months but no charges had been filed.

The judge said not much was said in the FIR against the petitioner other than the Supreme Court’s opinion, and the Gujarat High Court granted a long adjournment on August 3 when it issued a notice on Ms Setalvad’s bail request.

The bench, including Judge S Ravindra Bhat and Judge Sudhanshu Dhulia, raised several issues related to Ms. Setalvad’s detention.

“She is a lady. How does the High Court give a notice after six weeks? Is this standard practice in the Gujarat High Court? Give us an example, a lady is involved in a case like this, the High Court has done it [notice on bail plea] Repayable within six weeks,” the chief justice said.

Teesta Setalvad has been detained since 25 June on charges of falsifying documents to bring a case related to the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The Chief Justice said: “In this case, a rider who cannot be released on bail does not constitute an offence, such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Prevention of Terrorism Act. These are normal offences and women are entitled to preferential treatment.” .

India’s Attorney General Tushar Mehta asked to adjourn yesterday’s hearing. “All of these arguments should be made in the High Court, not the Supreme Court. This is my preliminary objection,” Mr Mehta said.

Ms Setalvad’s lawyer, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, said: “I’m challenging the FIR. There can’t be an FIR here. The FIR did not reveal what the documents I forged were.”

Ms Setalvad was arrested in Mumbai by the Gujarat police’s counter-terrorism unit, a day after the Supreme Court rejected her client Zakia Jafri’s petition challenging the Special Investigation Unit’s removal of then-Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Narendra Modi’s alleged wrongdoing in the larger conspiracy involved the Gujarat riots.

The court will hear Ms Setalvad’s bail request again at 2pm today.

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