Supreme Court wants larger bench to hear Teesta Setalvad bail plea

The bench extended the February 19 order of interim stay on the couple’s arrest.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: March 20, 2015 5:08 am
teesta Setalvad, Supreme Court Setalvad, Activist Teesta Setalvad Supreme Court last month gave the couple anticipatory bail in a separate case of alleged misappropriation of funds raised for a museum at the site of the Gulberg Society massacre during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand failed to get anticipatory bail on Thursday, with a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court saying the issue demanded the attention of a larger bench.

The bail plea, usually a routine matter in courts, will now be decided by a bench comprising at least three judges of the top court. There is currently a stay on the couple’s arrest.

Saying that “the matter should be heard by a larger bench”, the court directed the Court Registry to place the matter before Chief Justice H L Dattu for the constitution of an appropriate bench.

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The two-judge bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Adarsh Kumar Goel said the issue before it was “whether liberty on one hand and fair and effective investigation on the other, make out a case for extending the benefit under Section 438 CrPC (anticipatory bail)”.

It cited one passage from political thinker Edmund Burke to emphasise how indispensable liberty was, and another by second president of the United States John Adams to state that no one is above the law.

The court said the larger bench would need to address a host of issues, namely “the value of liberty, the concept of regulated freedom, the societal restriction, the supremacy of the law, the concept of anticipatory bail and the assertion of the prosecution about the non-cooperation of the appellants in the investigation, and the asseveration made by the appellants (Teesta and Javed)”.

The case involves funds received by Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace for building a memorial at the Gulbarg Cooperative Housing Society in Ahmedabad for victims of the 2002 riots. The Gujarat police had lodged an FIR on a complaint alleging cheating, breach of trust and misappropriation of funds. The High Court had rejected the couple’s bail plea underlining their lack of cooperation with investigators, prompting Teesta and Javed to move the top court.

The matter was then mentioned before a bench headed by CJI Dattu, and he allowed the case to be listed the next day on an urgent basis. When the matter came up before a two-judge bench of Justices S J Mukhopadhaya and N V Ramana, it said that the allegations were “grave” and added that “she (Teesta) would be treated like any other ordinary citizen”.

But almost a week later, the case came to be listed before another bench of Justices Misra and Goel. This bench granted Teesta and Javed interim protection from arrest, and expressed an inclination to grant them bail, observing that “liberty is paramount and cannot be put on a ventilator” when custodial interrogation is not imperative. It reserved its judgement on February 19.

Three days later, an unusual development took place as the Supreme Court fielded its Registrar to deny that the CJI had “on his own” shifted the bail plea to the new bench. The Registrar, however, declined to disclose which of the two judges on the previous bench — Justice Mukhopadhaya or Justice Ramana — had recused. Neither did the Registrar disclose why the judge had not recused when the bail plea first came up before the bench.

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First Published on: March 20, 2015 12:00 am
  1. H
    Haradhan Mandal
    Mar 19, 2015 at 3:26 pm
    It CLEARLY shows what honorable Supreme Court thinks about this case and about Gujrat police in this case. Supreme court should use all its power to stop of the misuse of police power and govt power of mafia-politicians ;and protect the NGOs and Human rights' groups! Honorable Supreme Court should recognize these NGOs and Human rights' groups as its EYES and EARS and HANDS to deliver justice to ordinary people! These NGOs and Human Rights' groups are only beacon of light and the Supreme court is the only power, left for ordinary citizens. Just remember how State and Central Govt (both under the same political ideology) forced that lady, Mrs Pillai, a Green and Human Right Activists, from travelling abroad to attend conference!
    Reply
    1. N
      nishit sahay
      Mar 19, 2015 at 10:17 pm
      Hopefully one day SC will protect innocent ones and not criminals. Indian legal system needs overhauling.
      Reply
      1. A
        Amit Sinha
        Mar 19, 2015 at 7:01 pm
        Being a NRI I don't know much about this woman (couple?). But I do recall seeing a YouTube video of a debate on the status of Moslems in India. She was arguing that the Islamic community in India is seriously discriminated against by all non-Moslems . The crux of her argument was the community's paltry representation in India's civil services, etc. She came across as very motivated but her supporting arguments were weak and the opposing side (and some people in the audience during Q&A) picked them apart with ease. From what I understand the woman is a Hindu who is married to a Moslem man. Which is perfectly fine. What is NOT fine is when she leverages her 'pion' for minority rights to enrich herself (by misappropriating funds) to live high on the hog. I read somewhere she spent crores on frivolous purchases using credit cards and now she is claiming those were legitimate buys since the money came from her private funds. Is she that wealthy that she could afford such a splurge? At least, on the surface it appears she is a crook and ought to be put away for a very long time - preferably with her husband and those who funded them. Can anyone give me a pointer where I can catch up on the background of this case (and/or this couple)? Thank you!
        Reply
        1. M
          Moraen
          Mar 19, 2015 at 12:50 pm
          only our countrys judiciary stands between "revenge of Modi" and Teesta Seetalvad. The case has nothing to do with frauds or anything. Its just revenge politics. Because she stood up for the victims of Gujrat Genocide.
          Reply
          1. R
            Rajesh
            Mar 19, 2015 at 11:42 am
            High time this criminal is locked up.
            Reply
            1. R
              Rajesh
              Mar 19, 2015 at 11:55 am
              I really wished Narendra Modi would file a defamation case against this useless creature. Shameless liar filed false cases against the honourable PM accusing him of m murder without a single shred of evidence. Of course, the PM has far more cl and dignity than this piece of manure. People have called him a murderer, a butcher, a dictator and he has always taken it all in his stride. Much respect to him for being a far bigger man than me. As for this filthy liar, she has proven herself to be honest, and I have no doubt that she used illegal funds.
              Reply
              1. B
                Bulusu S Murthy
                Mar 19, 2015 at 1:16 pm
                While it's a long held legal dictum that one should approach courts with clean hands, wonder why Justices Misra and Gogoi are found to be so fond of Teesta Setalvad? Hope the larger bench will have a broader perspective than the pro-fraud bunch.
                Reply
                1. B
                  B. SRIDHAR
                  Mar 19, 2015 at 9:34 pm
                  This is quite surprising. How come the issue of rights and liberty have come in this case. Whose liberty and freedom and rights are in question. A couple who have not at all been co-operating with the police for the last one year. There splurge of the funds and improper transfer to their personal accounts in the public domain thanks to one news paper named PIONEER. The entire media being spectators and infact playing ball witht he couples for the simple fact that WHEN MY ENEMY IS YOUR ENEMY AND HENCE YOU ARE MY FRIEND atude and thereby showcasing this woman as a crusader for minority welfare, is the reason this woman grew bigger than her shoes. The couple feel that they are untouchable by law. There are about more than 300 cases against her and in this case the doentations are clear and if they are granted bail, then the courts will be setting a totally wrong precedent. The referral to a larger bench will only give them time. The courts could have easily found out whether the couple were co-operating with the investigations or not! But the courts chose the other way! This is a sad commentary. Atleast we expect the Supreme Court to be fair and not get swa away by media reports and fake debates! TIME THIS COUPLE LAND UP BEHIND THE BARS!
                  Reply
                  1. D
                    Damaru Prasad
                    Mar 19, 2015 at 11:36 am
                    The hands of the law are really not only very long but also crooked too. They reach out far out into the sky and twist from there to protect someone running helter skelter.
                    Reply
                    1. G
                      Gopal
                      Mar 19, 2015 at 5:32 pm
                      It is mind boggling how the well connected can get hearing after hearing in the Supreme Court in a case that should not even be heard. There are thousands of cases that aren't being heard and yet we have the court bending backward over and over, changing justices, just to decide whether to give her bail or not. When courts keep interfering in regular procedures is it any wonder that criminals walk free in India?
                      Reply
                      1. R
                        RS
                        Mar 20, 2015 at 5:23 am
                        Teesta, a victim of AMit-Modi duo's revenge!
                        Reply
                        1. B
                          BharatK
                          Mar 19, 2015 at 7:15 pm
                          Why Supreme Court keep giving special treatment to this criminal? We failed to understand why it is called Supreme (Court), when in reality it is subservient to criminals like this woman? Shame on SC, wake up before public comes out on street to expose your sweet relations with criminals like this one.
                          Reply
                          1. N
                            No Hypes
                            Mar 19, 2015 at 6:35 pm
                            Even Judiciary is in suion!Are the courts for justice or injustice!! Our democracy is farce!!!
                            Reply
                            1. N
                              No Hypes
                              Mar 19, 2015 at 6:38 pm
                              Looks like a devil or a devil herself ?
                              Reply
                              1. G
                                G G
                                Mar 19, 2015 at 1:29 pm
                                Surprising the Honorable SC is so kind and sympathetic to this fraud!? What perhaps could have been decided much earlier , in the very first hearing, the court is graciously granting , time to the fraud! No doubt cases are piling up in the courts. This will also be a forerunner to the other courts to delay justice.
                                Reply
                                1. K
                                  KMR Overseas
                                  Mar 19, 2015 at 12:32 pm
                                  It is better to keep Teesta Setalvad Javed and Javed Anand couple in a mode of imminent arrest and keep busy Mr Zero Sibal arguing the case of these couple who is the main instigator for the wrong doings of this couple. Else, these immoral barking d o g s make nuisance to everybody.
                                  Reply
                                  1. M
                                    M Vyas
                                    Mar 19, 2015 at 1:11 pm
                                    Still Narendra Modi is on a receiving end ...Hardly any sympathizers including judiciary
                                    Reply
                                    1. K
                                      khan
                                      Mar 19, 2015 at 7:20 pm
                                      All of a sudden, since Modi government has come to power, Supreme Court judges have gone incompetent, or, the fear is ruling the roost. Is india incapable of having supreme court judges that cannot rule on basic rights of indian citizens?
                                      Reply
                                      1. M
                                        Mukund
                                        Mar 19, 2015 at 12:15 pm
                                        Liberty has meaning when the person is genuine. She does not give doents and creates a utter confusion in Supreme court. Surprisingly the judges are also confusing the issue bye stating larger bench. If I am held will the court give such direction . They will not do it. The judges are biased because for so many years it has been lingering. She is accused of filing wrong affidavits and it has been proved in the court, yet these judges have sympathy which it seems is doubtful about the character oif judges also.. Eith her they are undecisive or deliberate god knows????
                                        Reply
                                        1. M
                                          mohan
                                          Mar 19, 2015 at 1:11 pm
                                          This judgement of SC would boomerang and will become a precedent! Take for instance bank fraud cases! In such cases all the doents are lying in the custody of bank - like bill of exchange, invoices, doents, le deeds and still in case of a fraud, the police, CBI get judicial custody and some times the accused spends time as under trial even before the case is argued in courts. By the leeway given to teesta and co by SC saying it is mere financial transactions doents are with police, they will submit in due course (the original SC observation while giving interim stay) similar arguments will be put forth in banking fraud cases as all doents are already in the custody of banks!
                                          Reply
                                          1. P
                                            Pankaj#1
                                            Mar 20, 2015 at 2:42 am
                                            Teesta? Hey Madam.
                                            Reply
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