Don't Give Special Treatment To Teesta Setalvad- Tushar Mehta Argues, Supreme Court To Continue Hearing Tomorrow
The Supreme Court today heard in part the plea by Teeta Setalvad challenging the refusal of interim relief by the Gujarat High Court. The Court will continue further hearing at 2 pm tomorrow.
The Bench comprising of Chief Justice U. U. Lalit, Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia observed that in a case like that of Teesta involving no bodily offence and only offences relating to documents, police custody may be required only in the initial period. It observed that the Petitioner is a lady and the High Court made the notice returnable in six weeks.
To the submission that there are other cases of bail pending before the High Court, the Bench asked to show if there is a case like the present one involving a lady and the High Court has made notice returnable in six weeks. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the state of Gujarat replied by saying that no lady has committed such an offence.
Tushar Mehta started by objecting to the maintainability of the petition stating that Teesta having elected to approach the High Court, could not have approached the Supreme Court under Article 136, as per the doctrine of election. He also submitted that the Gujarat High Court has entertained her plea but has refused to give her any special treatment since other citizens in similar situations are also in jail.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Teesta submitted that the FIR against her is not maintainable since the allegations are in relation to documents that are filed in Court and it is only that Court which can raise a complaint and that no FIR can be registered. He submitted that the FIR has been registered based only on the Supreme Court's Judgment.
He submitted that FIR states that it has been registered to find out the conspiracy and that an FIR cannot be registered to find out something. Sibal read Sections 195 of CrPC and Section 194 of IPC that relates to fabricating false evidence and submitted that no FIR can be registered under Section 194 of IPC.
The Bench asked the SG what material has been found in the investigation over the past two months with Teesta in custody. The Chief Justice also said that there is no offence in the case where bail cannot be granted like in the case of UAPA or POTA. The CJI said that the Petitioner is a lady and is entitled to favourable treatment.
The Solicitor General then asked if normal litigants had rushed to the Supreme Court as Teesta did, would they have been entertained? He said that many other litigants like the Petitioner are waiting and that no special treatment should be given to her. He relied on judgments that in normal cases, High Courts must have the final word in matters of bail.
The SG told the Court in reply to the question about what material has been collected against Teesta in the investigation that there are Section 164 statements against Teesta. He conceded that in exceptional cases, a party can directly approach the Supreme Court from the Sessions Court.
Teesta Seetalvad had moved the Supreme Court challenging the refusal of interim relief by the Gujarat High Court in the case filed against Teesta by Gujarat ATS alleging that she had been falsifying records in order to implicate high-ranking officials in the 2002 Gujarat Riot Case.
The Gujarat Government had filed its affidavit in reply to the SLP filed by Teesta Setalvad stating that statements of witnesses establish that "the conspiracy was enacted by the present Petitioner (Teesta), along with other accused persons, at the behest of a senior leader of a political party. It is submitted that the Petitioner had held meetings with the said political leader and had received large amounts of money".