Gujarat HC rejects bail plea of activist Teesta Setalvad, asks her to surrender immediately

The Supreme Court in September 2022 had granted interim bail to Teesta Setalvad in connection with the 2002 post-Godhra riots case

Indian civil rights activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad (photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Indian civil rights activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad (photo: Wikimedia Commons)


The Gujarat High Court on Saturday, July 1, rejected the regular bail plea of social activist Teesta Setalvad and directed her to surrender immediately in a case pertaining to the alleged fabrication of evidence to frame innocent people in 2002 post-Godhra riots cases.

The court of Justice Nirzar Desai rejected Setalvad’s bail plea and directed her to surrender immediately as she is already out of jail after securing interim bail.

As the applicant is out on interim bail granted by the Supreme Court, she is directed to surrender immediately, the court said in its order.

The court also refused to stay the order for a period of 30 days as sought by Setalvad’s lawyer after the pronouncement of the order. A detailed order is awaited.

Setalvad was taken into custody on June 25 last year along with former Gujarat Director General of Police R B Sreekumar and ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in an offence registered by Ahmedabad crime branch police for allegedly fabricating evidence to frame “innocent people” in the post-Godhra riots cases.

An Ahmedabad sessions court had on July 30, 2022, rejected the bail applications of Setalvad and Sreekumar in the case, saying their release will send a message to wrongdoers that a person can level allegations with impunity and get away with it.

The High Court had on August 3, 2022, issued a notice to the state government on the bail plea of Setalvad and fixed the matter for hearing on September 19. Meanwhile, she moved the Supreme Court (SC) for interim bail after the high court refused to consider her plea for the same.

The SC on September 2 last year granted her interim bail and asked her to surrender her passport with the trial court till the time the Gujarat High Court decided her regular bail plea.

The top court also asked her to cooperate with the probe agency in the investigation of the case.

Setalvad walked out of jail on September 3. The case against Setalvad and two others was registered days after the June 24 verdict of the apex court in the Zakia Jafri case.

While dismissing the petition filed by Zakia Jafri whose husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was killed during the riots, the SC had observed that “it appears to us that a coalesced effort of the disgruntled officials of the State of Gujarat along with others was to create sensation by making revelations which were false to their own knowledge.”.

All those involved in such abuse of process “need to be in the dock and proceed in accordance with law,” the supreme court had said.

The 2002 Gujarat riots were triggered by the torching of a coach of Sabarmati Express by a mob near Godhra station on February 27 that year.

Fifty-nine passengers, mostly Hindu Karsevaks returning from Ayodhya, were charred to death in the incident.

Last month, the trial court rejected Sreekumar's plea for discharge in the case. Sreekumar is also out on interim bail in the case granted by Gujarat HC.

Former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, the third accused in the case, has not applied for bail. Bhatt was already in jail for another criminal matter when he was arrested in this case.

Setalvad and the other two have been booked under Indian Penal Code sections 468, 471 (forgery), 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence), 211 (institute criminal proceedings to cause injury), 218 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture), and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy). 

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