SC: Why was Teesta’s bail plea listed late in Guj HC? Times of India

02, Sep 2022 | Amit Anand Choudhary

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed serious displeasure over the Gujarat HC listing the hearing of activist Teesta Setalvad’s bail petition after six weeks. It observed the state government was making “this lady an exception” even when she had not been booked under any stringent law like UAPA.

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 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 Gujarat HC for not giving timely hearing to Setelvad’s bail plea, posted the case for Friday.

“She happens to be a lady. If the high court posts the case after six weeks then should we also close the file?… Give us instances where a lady accused is in custody and her case (bail plea) is made returnable after six weeks. How can the HC make the case returnable after six weeks? Is it a standard procedure of the HC? This lady has been made an exception,” the court told the state which submitted that Setalvad petition was not maintainable in SC.

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.

The court also noted that the complaint was filed just a day after the SC’s judgement in Zakia Jafri case and the FIR did not contain anything beyond the verdict. “FIR as it stands is nothing more than what happened in the court. So is there additional material apart from what was in the SC judgement. In the last two months, have you filed chargesheet or is the investigation (still) going on?” the court said.

The CJI-led bench asked: “What material have you found in past two months? Number one, lady has completed two months of custody. Number 2, you had custodial interrogation. Is there anything you have elicited out of that?”

Setalvad was arrested a day after SC said she along with a few others including police officers fabricated evidence in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots cases. Denied bail in sessions court, she had approached the HC which had on August 3 issued notice but posted the case for hearing after six weeks on September 19.

Raising preliminary objections on maintainability of her petition, SG Tushar Mehta submitted that no accused should be given preferential treatment either by the court or by the government and her plea in HC could not be taken out of turn. He said that there are many accused in custody for a longer period than Setalvad and their plea should be given priority.

Mehta also pointed out that her plea was not maintainable as she bypassed the HC and did not wait for the outcome of her plea in HC . Referring to the SC’s earlier verdict, the solicitor general also contended that it should not entertain bail petitions and such cases should be decided by HCs. The bench, however, said the court has to be alive to the facts and circumstances of the case while entertaining the petition.

The original piece may be read here


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Go to Top
Nafrat Ka Naqsha 2023