Raising serious concerns about the way activist Testa Sittalvad was held in Gujarat for more than two months, the Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned how the Gujarat High Court had issued a notice requesting a response after six weeks.
A judicial panel headed by Chief Justice of India U Yu Lalit also noted that “there is no crime in this case for which bail cannot be granted”, and that too for a woman. The judges said Ms. Setalvad had been imprisoned for more than two months and yet no indictment had been filed.
Gujarat High Court said the Gujarat High Court, noting that the FIR against the petitioner did not mention much except for the observations made by the High Court, while issuing a notice on Ms. Setalvad’s bail application on August 3, granted a lengthy adjournment.
The jury, which included Judge S. Ravindra Bhatt and Judge Sudhanshu Dolia, several questions regarding Sitalvad’s detention in custody.
“It’s a lady. How did the High Court give a notice of reinstatement after six weeks? Is this the usual practice in the Gujarat High Court? It gives us cases where a lady is involved in a case like this and the High Court has made that [notice on bail plea] It can be returned in six weeks,” the presiding judge said.
Testa Setalvad has been detained since 25 June over allegations that she falsified documents to file cases related to the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The Chief Justice said, “There is no crime in this case that comes with a contestant who cannot be given bail, such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Terrorism Prevention Act. These are ordinary crimes and the woman is entitled to preferential treatment.” .
The Attorney General of India, Tushar Mehta, requested a postponement of yesterday’s hearing. “All these arguments should be made in the Supreme Court and not in the Supreme Court. This is my initial objection,” said Mr. Mehta.
Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal, Ms. Sitalvad’s attorney, said: “I am defying the FIR. There can be no FIR here. The FIR does not reveal the document you forged.”
Ms Sitalvad was arrested in Mumbai by the Gujarat Police’s Counter Terrorism Squad, a day after the Supreme Court rejected her client Zakia Jafri’s petition which the Special Investigation Team had challenged the acquittal of Narendra Modi, then Chief Minister of Gujarat, of wrongdoing in the alleged larger plot. involving riots in Gujarat.
The court will consider Ms. Setalvad’s bail application again today at 2 pm.