But on a plea from the Gujarat police, the SC stayed part of the high court order which had allowed Teesta to seek extension of the pre-arrest bail from Bombay HC itself.
Senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani on Monday appearing for Ahmedabad police made a statement in the apex court that though the police wanted to challenge the HC relief for Teesta, it “would not obstruct” her foreign travel plans.
On April 5, the HC had restrained police from arresting Setalvad, 56, and Anand, 68, till May 2. Ahmedabad police had in January registered a FIR for offences of cheating, corruption and hate speech, against Setalvad, Anand and others. The FIR alleged that the duo had colluded with HRD ministry officials about a decade ago to secure Rs 1.4 crore in funds for an education NGO, Khoj, which they had founded but had misappropriated the funds for personal use.
Teesta’s case is that the FIR is “completely baseless and filed with mala fide intentions to deprive her liberty.” Her counsel C U Singh said the HC had jurisdiction to hear her plea since the entire allegation in the FIR pertains to Maharashtra and nothing about any transaction in Gujarat. He alleged that filing of FIR in Gujarat was an abuse of process of law.
The Ahmedabad police had on April 1, issued her a notice to appear before it. Teesta had by then secured permission from two trial courts in Mumbai and Gujarat in two other pending cases against her, to travel to Canada and US from April 10 to May 15.
She was invited to attend the 100th anniversary event of Jallianwala Baug massacre in Canada. She and Anand moved the HC for transit bail which Justice Revati Mohite-Dere granted on April 5 for a Rs 25,000 bond. The HC had however, directed her to appear before the Gujarat cops on April 6 at 10am.
Justice Mohite-Dere while granting Teesta relief, had taken a view contrary to that in an order passed by another single judge-bench of the HC earlier and hence also directed that the matter be referred to a larger bench. But Justice Mohite-Dere had allowed Teesta to approach her to renew the relief if by May 2, the larger bench was not set up.
Jethmalani objected to this aspect of the HC order while Teesta’s counsel Singh opposed the police plea as lacking in merit. The SC however while asking the police to give two more weeks of protection to Teesta after her mid-May return , directed that the activist must move an appropriate court in Ahmedabad for extension before May 31.