NEW DELHI/ AHMEDABAD: Social activist Teesta Setalvad late on Saturday night got some relief after a three-member special bench of the Supreme Court stayed for seven days a Gujarat High Court fiat directing her to surrender immediately in a criminal case related to the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Before that, there was a lot of courtroom drama as a two-judge special bench of the SC had differed on granting her interim protection.
The matter then went to the three-judge special bench of the SC comprising B R Gawai, A S Bopanna and Dipankar Datta, which stayed the HC order.
In the division bench, Justice A S Oka expressed his intention to grant her protection by asking the state to place on record that no coercive action would be taken against her. However, Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra was reluctant. They then referred the matter to Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, asking him to constitute a three-judge bench to hear the bail plea.
“There is a disagreement between us on the question of grant of interim protection. So we request the Chief Justice to assign this matter to a larger bench,” the bench said.
Justice Oka was of the view that the high court should have “given some breathing time” for her to surrender and for the matter to be placed before the top court.
The SC granted Teesta interim bail on Sept 2, 2022. Justice Oka said, “The court (HC) could have granted at least breathing time so that it could have been considered by the SC. Heavens won’t fall if you say that you will not take any action until Tuesday.”
Appearing for the Gujarat government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said Teesta was not entitled to interim protection since she took the system for a ride.
Gujarat High Court judge Nirzar Desai had directed petitioner Teesta Setalvad to surrender immediately