Breaking: Supreme Court Grants Interim Bail To Indian Human Rights Activist Teesta Setalwad

Bench assembles. This is the thread of the debate in court , courtesy LIVE LAW

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta starts by apologizing : I will be as brief as possible.

SG : Yesterday, your lordship rightly raised a concern about the returnable date of the High Court. The message which went was that she was singled out

SG: 33 returnable matters on August 3. Certain matters were auto-listed. I enquired what was it. CJI has been introduced. If there are defects, time is given to cure. Because the person in jail would not know.

SG : What happened on August 3? In my submission, the High Court rightly continued with the uniform practice adopted in view of the number of matters listed, it gave a reasonable date.

SG refers to certain orders of August 3, says Rule is made returnable on Oct, September dates…

CJI Lalit : It does not appear to be any matter of a lady.

Kapil Sibal : I have a list of 28 matters by the same judge, bail granted in few days.

SG strongly objects, and raises his voice: This petitioner has maligned the entire State since 2002, has maligned the entire institution, says this judge is not trustworthy, that judge is trustworthy…please stop this. He is one of the finest judges, don’t say anything behind his back.

SG : The point is he did not rightly deviate from a uniform practice. This has been going on, this maligning campaign, that entire state is rapists. This has been going on, this maligning campaign, that entire state is rapists, murderers…

CJI : Solicitor, lets confine to the facts of the case.

SG: I have to as a government lawyer, as a prosecutor point out the facts. An earlier date could have been given, I don’t object. My purpose in showing you this was that if the impression was given to someone that the petitioner was singled out, that’s wrong.

SG: I have instructions to say the learned judge disposes of 30-40 matters on the disposable judge. That’s the system. Please don’t make an exception, leaving my brief aside.

SG: I am not labouring much on this point. I will give the propositions for the doctrine of election. There is a doctrine of elections- where if a litigant has two remedies and he voluntarily elects once is estopped from taking second.

SG: The third question your lordship put was, what was the material? The connected question was there was nothing further in the FIR apart from the judgment. I will demonstrate it is not true.

SG: Let me give a brief background, first round of litigation, SIT was appointed, Court allowed protest petition to be filed. Trial Court rejects protest petition. HC approves and this court also.

SG : SC also dismissed. Meaning thereby, there was some conspiracy, we have materials, in one of the reports of SIT told the SC that several people came with pre-typed statements, SIT said we can’t take those. Those people said it was given by this petitioner…

SG : We had this material. But it was out of deference that we did not place, as this court was seized of the matter. 

SG : Somebody filed FIR with wild allegations, somebody tried falsification of evidence with a view to ensure some 70 people get capital punishment..

SG reads from State’s reply.

SG : Who were part of the conspiracy? What was the motive of the conspiracy? That is being investigated right now. We two statements under 164 which prima facie show it was a conspiracy, not some misunderstanding, but a calculated conspiracy to achieve something particular.

SG : These affidavits, these falsifications, they happened outside the Court. They were to be produced in Court. 

SG gives the statements to the bench.

Justice Dhulia : This is 161 statement?

SG : Yes, I will show 164 statements too.

CJI Lalit : How did you get the 164 statement? It is supposed to be in a sealed cover?

SG: It is for your lordship’s consumption.

CJI : Then it has to come from the Court.

SG : It remains with the IO..

CJI : It is supposed to be in Court.

SG: We requested from the court and got from the court, your lordships are right.

CJI : These persons, who are the witnesses here, were they examined as witnesses in trial?

SG: Number 1 was examined, and number 2 is a new statement.

SG : Should your lordships undertake this exercise?

CJI : We are not.

SG : Page () is a statement by a person who gave money. I must tell, totally 8 crores were collected by the petitioner. And purchases were wines, Dubai duty free shops….there is another case…

SG : It is not that it is a case of no evidence. Would your lordships need to make an exception? There is a conspiracy. And the investigation is at a very very crucial stage.

SG : Last point, forgery has taken place somewhere else. So 340 CrPC won’t apply. I have decision from Iqbal Singh Marwa. If falsification was before Court’s custody, the bar will not come.

SG : Kindly do not lay down a precedent which may not be a correct precedent.

CJI : We have one or two questions. What have you found from custodial interrogation of this lady?

SG : She is an intelligent lady, she would not have said, she has not cooperated.

CJI : How many days she was interrogated?

SG : 7 days. But she has refused to answer.

CJI : Apart from her, how many more accused?

SG: 2 more. 3 accused.

CJI : According to you, all these instances of she trying to get affidavits when these activities took place?

SG : That continued during the trial.

CJI : What was the approximate time?

SG : According to us, it was during the trial.

CJI : That is why we asked if any witnesses were examined in the trial.

Sibal: The closure report was in 2012 so it couldn’t have been after 2012

SG : Trial in these particular cases were over in 2014 and they were examined

CJI : We just wanted to know the approximate period.

SG : Kindly come to para….

SG : This is the SIT report..

CJI : We need not got into that. If the man testifies on oath in trial which concluded in 2014, is there any allegation that this lady put pressure on the witness?

SG : We are investigating.

CJI : These considerations are worthy so far as bail

SG : Allegation is a falsification of evidence, cooking up witnesses, that is precisely we are investigating..

CJI : Very well, anything else.

SG: Kindly see 161 statement.

SG : Your lordship has seen the nature of the conspiracy. It is not ending with the petitioner. It is starting with the petitioner. There are powerful

CJI : Okay, very well. SG: I will be repeating. I will urge not to make any exception.

CJI : Thank you. Yes, Mr.Sibal?

Sibal: First, I don’t think we should get into it. But he has made it an issue.

Sibal refers to certain orders passed by the judge.

SG : It is the judges’ discretion.

Sibal raises voice: I never interrupted you.

SG : This maligning campaign must stop.

Sibal : I never interrupted you. This is not fair. Fact of the matter is that in many cases people got convicted. 124 life imprisonments. And he says

nothing happened.

SG : I never said nothing happened.

Sibal : I don’t expect this from a law officer. We have also been law officers.

Sibal refers to a chart : Right from 2010 the witness has been giving statements against her, and every court has been rejected. This is all motivated He is a former employee of mine who I threw out.

Sibal : And he gives the 164 statement which he is talking about. 

Sibal : When were the affidavits filed. In 2002-2003. And what happened for the last 20 years? And assuming these are typed affidavits, how is it forgery, how is it fabrication? Offence cannot be made out.

Sibal : The person who is forced must come and give the FIR. But here it is the State which is filing the FIR. This is malicious, this is motivated. 

Sibal : These affidavits are not filed in these cases, these are filed in some other cases. These are affidavits filed before Supreme Court supporting NHRC petition for transfer. So NHRC was motivated? 

Sibal : It is very unfortunate, my learned friend mentioned some wine bottles and all..

Sibal to SG : You should have told the Court that the matter is pending in the court and relief was given,,in all fairness you should have mentioned to the court

Sibal : There is never an allegation that I have tampered with any witnesses even after I got an anticipatory bail.

Sibal : We have got bail in the matters

Sibal : All these cases, they have targeted me, from the very beginning. I am the number one enemy of the State.

And he talks about I am a powerful person? Who can be more powerful than the state? She is a 60 year old lady. What can she do?

CJI : Yes, anything else? Sibal : Yes, there is volume here. Order of this Court in Zakia Jafri.

Sibal : Those 161 statements have been accepted by the Court in the final judgment. There is a Supreme Court.. that you can’t use these statements in any other case. And they are prosecuting me! Not only prosecution, persecution.

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