Personal Liberty vs. Fair and Effective Investigation; Teesta Setalvad’s Case referred to Larger Bench; Interim bail extended

Personal Liberty vs. Fair and Effective Investigation; Teesta Setalvad’s Case referred to Larger Bench; Interim bail extended

The two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court, comprising of Justices Dipak Misra and Adarsh Kumar Goel which heard the application for anticipatory bail filed by Activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband, has referred the matter for the consideration of a larger bench. The Bench formulated the question “whether liberty on the one hand and fair and effective investigation on the other, make out  a case  for  extending  the  benefit  under  Section 438 CrPC?.” The Court extended the interim bail to Teesta Setalvad  and her husband in the Case.

The Supreme Court ordered, “As an interim measure, it is directed that the appellants shall not be arrested in connection with FIR being C.R.  No.  1 of  2014, registered with  D.C.P.,  Crime  Branch,  Ahmedabad, Gujarat.”

The petition before the Apex Court was by Teesta and her husband who are facing charges of having few  crores  of  rupees  as donations from certain donors from India and abroad by projecting the plight  of  the affected  persons of  Gulbarga Society  and  by entering  into  a  conspiracy,  and  had promised that they would build a “museum” in honour of the 2002 riot victims and also told them not to sell their land with the assurance that  the trustees would arrange funds for the same, but they neither built the museum as promised  nor  spent  the amount  for  the  benefit  of  the members  of  the  Gulbarga Society  nor  did  they  fulfil  the assurance made to the victims as regards the  sale of their properties but expended on themselves by benumbing and comatosing their liberty by asking them to face custodial interrogation.”

In the petition, Teesta had pleaded that the charges against her are false and that she should not be arrested and had accordingly sought anticipatory bail.

The Bench has quoted a passage from Edmund Burke and John Adams, second President of the United States of America and then observed, “Having stated about 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 asseverations made by the appellants, we think it  appropriate that  the matter should be heard by a larger Bench.”

In February an apex Court Bench headed by Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya had stayed their arrest till February 19, directing the Gujarat Government lawyer to produce certain essential materials relating to the Case. Later the Chief Justice of India had formed another bench to hear the matter as one of the Judges in the earlier bench had recused himself from hearing. On 19thFebruary the Bench comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A.K. Goel has directed the Gujarat Police to refrain from arresting them.

Read the Order here.