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Supreme favouritism of the Supreme Court of India

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The Indian Supreme Court has shown supreme favouritism to Jih@di activist and NGO-woman Teesta Setalvad recently. When a Single-Judge-Bench of Gujarat High Court rejected her bail application on 1 July 2023 (Saturday) on a forgery case related to Gujarat riot 2002 and asked her to surrender immediately, she did not bother to move the Division Bench of Gujarat High Court.

Teesta Setalvad activated her ecosystem in Delhi and our highest Milord (CJI) constituted a Two-Judge-Bench of Supreme Court which started hearing the bail plea of Teesta Setalvad at 6.30 PM on the same Saturday. But when a Split Verdict was delivered at 9.00 PM in the same afternoon, the CJI constituted a Three-Judge-Bench then and there. The later Bench heard the plea and after midnight, stayed the order of Gujarat High Court and awarded Teesta Setalvad seven day’s relief.

Supreme Court observed that the sky would not have fallen on Gujarat High Court if bail plea was granted? But it never explained if the sky fell on the Supreme Court to hear the case twice in the same Saturday evening and night? Can any common forgery-case accused of India expect to get such highly preferential consideration from CJI? No. Then why was CJI so eager to help Teesta Setalvad out of the way? This is no million Dollar question. You know what I mean?

Granting the bail to Teesta Setalvad, the Three-Judge-Bench of Supreme Court said “We are not going into the merits of the matter. We are only concerned with that part of the order which rejected the petitioner’s request for a stay. In ordinary circumstances, we would not have interfered. After the petitioner was arrested, this Court considered her request for interim bail. One of the factors which weighed with this Court in granting interim bail was that the petitioner was a lady and was entitled to special protection under Section 437 CrPC. Considering this fact, the single learned judge ought to have granted some time…We stay the order of the single bench for a period of one week.”

What a weird logic of the Supreme Court where female sex of the accused ruled over the merit of the matter? Had that been so, what about the thousands of other females accused of India who are rotting in police/jail custody without bail for months? They don’t get the opportunity to move any bail application and if they do, their pleas are treated with Tarikh Pe Tarikh only.

The Three-Judge-Bench of the Supreme Court overlooked the merit of the matter to bypass the sharp observations of Gujarat High Court in denying the bail plea of Teesta Setalvad earlier in the day. The Gujarat High court observed that Teesta Setalvad had an “intention to tarnish the image of the then Chief Minister and thereby to send him to jail and compel him to resign”. Teesta Setalvad was also accused for polarising people of a ‘particular community’

At the moment, the Supreme Court has more than 70,000 pending cases, which are treated with Tarikh Pe Tarikh. So, in the instant case, the Supreme Court promoted the principle that all Indians are not equal in the eyes of law. Teesta Setalvad got this preferential treatment for her closeness with Antonia Maino led ecosystem.

Looking from another angle, this case against Teesta Setalvad was registered in 2022 on the direction of the Supreme Court which Prima Facie found the intent and activities of Teesta Setalvad, in her Gujarat 2002 riot case, to be highly malicious. So, nobody knew what new facts came before the Supreme Court in the evening and night of 1-2 July 2023 to make the case special (not ordinary circumstances) and stay the order of Gujarat High Court in favour of Teesta Setalvad. The Supreme Court could have done better by quashing the said case against Teesta Setalvad all together.

On 5 July 2023, the Supreme court posted Teesta Setalvad’s bail plea for hearing on 19 July 2023. Issuing notice on her petition, the Supreme Court also extended the stay of Gujarat high court’s order which denied her bail. But this extension of the stay, till the hearing, could have been granted by the Supreme court in its mid-night order of 1-2 July 2023. As the things are moving, no one will be surprised if Teesta Setalvad will get further interim bail from the Supreme Court without any difficulty on 19 July 2023. The larger question here is how the Supreme Court would have treated an accused with prima facie intention to tarnish the image of a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court?

Whatever urgency the Supreme Court has shown to grant bail to Teesta Setalvad will be reversed to slowness once the case against her will come for regular hearing. The dates for hearing will come after long gaps and the case will drag on for years allowing the accused to lead a normal life. People will forget about the case, like they have forgotten the ‘National Herald case’ in which Antonia Maino and others are out of bail. Yes, the advocate representing Teesta Setalvad is Kapil Sibal.

While the Executive and Legislative wings of India are accountable to the people in the form of periodic elections, the Judiciary is accountable to the Constitution only. The Constitution of India provides for the removal of the judges of the Supreme Court of India and the High Courts (Article 124) for misbehaviour and incapacity by means of impeachment.

For impeachment, two-third majority in Parliament is required and the process is very complicated. We have many ex-PMs, who lost the post in the electoral process. But no judge of the Supreme Court ever needed to pass through the scrutiny of citizens and none lost his post through impeachment in independent India. CJI never has to face a no-confidence motion either. The British colonial legacy has made the Indian Supreme Court virtually an institution with out accountability.

Even in selection of judges of Supreme Court and High Courts, Collegium System is followed in India. In this system, a group of senior judges select and transfer other judges and outgoing CJI recommends the name of next CJI, which is accepted by the President. Indian higher judiciary is a self-contained institution within closed doors. Citizens of the country have no role or voice to influence the selection, promotion and removal of judges and CJI. British mental slavery continues in Indian Judiciary in 2023, that is, 76 years after the independence from the British colonisation.

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