A day after it was urged by the Gujarat government not to give special treatment to Setalvad by entertaining her bail plea while her petition was still pending in the HC, the apex court said: “Unlike UAPA or Pota, there is no offence under the IPC that comes with a rider that bail should not be granted. These are not bodily offences, these are offences of documents filed in court. In these matters, the normal idea is, after the initial period of police custody, there is nothing which stops investigators from conducting a probe without custody. A lady is entitled to favourable treatment.”
Giving the state government 24 hours to inform the court whether such a precedent existed, the bench comprising CJI U U Lalit and Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia, which seemed particularly miffed at the Gujarat HC for not giving timely hearing to Setelvad’s bail plea, posted the case for Friday.
The bench said it was concerned that while the Gujarat government has based her arrest on the SC verdict which said that “disgruntled” state officials along with others had conspired to “keep the pot” of Gujarat riots boiling, but “the court didn’t suggest anything”. The bench also questioned the need to keep Setalvad in custody when she has already been interrogated and the evidence against her was based on documents which would not ordinarily require custodial interrogation.