Breaking: Specially Constituted Three Judge Bench Of Apex Court Stays Gujarat High Court's Order Denying Bail To Teesta Setalvad
In an unprecedented hearing that started at around 9.25 pm, a specially constituted three-judge Bench of the Apex Court stayed the order of the Gujarat High Court which declined bail to Teesta Setalvad and ordered her to surrender immediately.
The Three Judge Bench of Justice BR Gavai, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Dipankar Datta said in its Order that in ordinary circumstances, it would not have considered the request for a special hearing. The Court said that the High Court ought to have granted time to Teesta Setalvad to approach the Apex Court. The Court stayed the impugned order for one week. The Court granted liberty to parties to file pleadings and documents and directed that the matter be referred to the CJI for listing before an appropriate bench.
Senior Advocate CU Singh appearing for Setalvad at the outset showed the earlier order of September 2022 of the Apex Court granting interim relief to Setalvad, on the Bench asking for it. He submitted that on 3rd September, the Sessions Court imposed certain conditions for bail. On 20 September, the charge sheet was filed, he submitted. "I have never been called for a single interrogation and it is nobody's case that I have in any way violated any condition of interim bail", he submitted. I have attended every single date. Charges are to be framed.
Now ten months have gone by. Only two sections of the charge sheet are non-bailable. When he started submitting that those provisions are not applicable, the Bench said, "We are only concerned about interim relief".
The request for granting a stay was declined without reason, he submitted. He then mentioned the sequence of events that resulted in her arrest.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the State of Gujarat started by submitting that "I would urge your lordships to do what Court does when an ordinary citizen's bail is rejected".
What is the urgency that the person should not be granted seven days' time? Will the sky fall? We fail to understand the approach of the High Court. What is the alarming urgency that the High Court.., Justice Gavai asked.
Tushar Mehta then submitted that it is a matter of the rule of law, not about a person who thinks that he is not an ordinary criminal. "The system and rule of law is at stake", he submitted. He explained the allegations against Teesta. He submitted that the investigation is pursuant to an order of the Apex Court. He read from the said Judgment (read here).
The SG submitted that "the entire nation was maligned, the entire state was maligned, not only inside the Country but also outside the Country. It is not a question of one individual".
Justice Gavai then said that the question is only if the heavens are going to fall in one week.
Justice Datta then said that there was no remedy for the accused after the previous Bench of the Apex Court made such remarks. The SG then responded that the Court is not hearing an appeal against that Judgment. Justice Datta also said that the previous Bench that granted interim relief to Teesta was aware of the earlier Judgment. The Bench then clarified that it is not criticizing its earlier Judgment. "It is our Judgment", Justice Datta said.
"The learned single judge was totally wrong in not granting even one week's protection", Justice Gavai said.
The SG then submitted that it is not an ordinary case, she took every institution for a ride. The entire state was maligned.
Justice Gavi said that a three-judge bench has already granted relief to Teesta. The Bench then went on the pass the order. Tushar Mehta objected to a detailed order being passed. He submitted that the time for surrender can be extended instead. However, the Bench refused the plea by stating that Solicitor General should permit the Court to pass its order.
Supreme Court of India in a special hearing today at 9:15 PM to consider the plea of Social Activist @TeestaSetalvad challenging today's order of the Gujarat High Court rejecting her regular bail application and directing her to surrender immediately. #SupremeCourtOfIndia… pic.twitter.com/Y08VXy3siE— Verdictum (@verdictum_in) July 1, 2023
A two-judge Bench of Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra had conducted a special hearing only a few hours back, when both the Judge differed on the question of granting interim relief to Teesta. It appeared that Justice Oka was in favour of granting interim relief while Justice Mishra differed.
The Gujarat High Court today pronounced its Order on Teesta Setalvad’s application seeking regular bail, rejecting the same. The Court found that prima facie Teesta has exploited the feelings of minorities by provoking them and manipulating things. The High Court directed her to surrender immediately and refused the request of her Counsel to stay the Order for 30 days.
The High Court noted in its Order that Teesta played with the sentiments of a community just to ensure that particular political party gets sufficient swing in their favour. The Court also found that Teesta was funded freely by a political party and was assured of more funds if requires. The High Court also observed in its Order that Teesta played with the sentiments of two wounded communities and that she used the sentiments of a particular community to her benefit, collected money for herself and ultimately did not help the riot victims as promised.
The Supreme Court on September 2, 2022, granted an interim bail to Setalvad. That was a Bench of the then Chief Justice U. U. Lalit, Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia.
Cause Title: Teesta Atul Setalvad v. State of Gujarat Special Leave Petition (Criminal) Diary No. 25725/2023