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Tense moments as Justice Dave unhappy, refuses to extend Kapil Sibal plea for protection to Teesta Setalvad

Setalvad hearing a ‘mistake’?
Setalvad hearing a ‘mistake’?
As item 8 came up in Court No.3 at 11:30 AM on Monday, 12 October, before justices Anil R Dave and Adarsh Kumar Goel, the principal judge, Dave, showed considerable reluctance to extend the protection given to social activists Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand from arrest by the Gujarat Police, as sought by their counsel, senior advocate, Kapil Sibal.

The extension of protection was sought because the last extension given by the same bench expires on 15 October.

The Gujarat police wanted their custodial investigation in connection with the allegations that they embezzled funds meant for the riot victims. The Supreme Court granted the couple protection from arrest, because it has not yet constituted a three-Judge bench to hear their appeals against denial of anticipatory bail by the Gujarat high court.

A two-judge bench led by Justice Dipak Misra had referred the matter to be heard by a larger bench in March.

When Sibal brought to the attention of the bench, that the last extension was given under similar circumstances of the three-judge bench not being constituted for hearing their appeal against denial of anticipatory bail by the Gujarat High Court, and by Justice Dave himself, Justice Dave said it was a mistake.

To this, Sibal responded asking why the court was reluctant to continue protection when the respondent, State of Gujarat itself, had no objections to it.

When Sibal requested that she needed the court’s protection, as it may not be possible to get a new three-judge bench constituted for this purpose within two days, justice Dave asked him to mention it before the CJI

In his order Justice Dave merely said it should be listed before the appropriate bench as soon as possible in view of the fact that this matter has to be heard by a three-judge bench, and ad-interim relief granted by the court on 11 September will continue only till 15 October.

The Gujarat Government’s plea for custodial interrogation of Teesta and her husband in connection with misappropriation of funds collected by her NGO created a huge controversy when the Supreme Court’s two-judge bench on 19 March, led by Justice Dipak Misra, referred the matter to a three-judge bench in view of issues of civil liberty raised in the case.

Misra was of the view that custodial interrogation was not required if the investigation pertained only to the scrutiny of documents, if made available by the accused.

Also read: The files for and against Teesta Setalvad.

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