Upholding Personal Liberty

Upholding Personal Liberty

Upholding Personal Liberty


The Supreme Court’s recent intervention in the case of activist Teesta Setalvad, who is facing charges related to her involvement in seeking justice for the victims of the Gujarat riots, has brought the issue of personal liberty to the forefront.


GS -02 (Fundamental Rights)


  • Fundamental rights
  • Article 21 & Article 22
  • Power to Grant bail.

Mains Questions:

  • Discuss the importance of protecting personal liberty and ensuring individuals’ access to legal remedies? (150 words)

Dimensions of the article:

  • Unusual Circumstances and Protracted Legal Battle
  • Previous Grant of Interim Bail and Denial of Regular Bail
  • Upholding Personal Liberty and Legal Remedies

Unusual Circumstances and Protracted Legal Battle

  • The Supreme Court’s prompt formation of a Bench to hear Teesta Setalvad’s plea against the High Court order, followed by the subsequent referral to a larger Bench, reflects the exceptional circumstances surrounding the case.
  • It raises questions about potential attempts to prolong her incarceration. The Court’s intervention comes after a Bench had previously hinted at her arrest and prosecution, leading to the registration of an FIR against her and others involved.

Previous Grant of Interim Bail and Denial of Regular Bail

  • Teesta Setalvad had previously been granted interim bail by the Court, after spending an extended period in prison. Despite the charge sheet being filed and sufficient time served, her regular bail application was denied by the High Court.
  • The denial was based on the gravity of the offense and the material presented against her, with the High Court asserting that granting her bail would exacerbate communal polarization.

Upholding Personal Liberty and Legal Remedies

  • One of the Supreme Court judges expressed surprise at the denial of even a few days’ time for Teesta Setalvad to surrender, considering her nine months of freedom. The court emphasizes the need to safeguard personal liberty, particularly for a limited duration, so that individuals can pursue their legal remedies.
  • It cautions against allowing the prosecution’s zealousness to be the sole determinant of who remains free and who languishes in jail.

Way Forward:

  • Ensuring Fair and Transparent Proceedings: The judiciary must ensure fair and transparent proceedings in Teesta Setalvad’s case. It is crucial to strike a balance between upholding the rule of law and protecting individual rights. Allowing her to pursue legal remedies without undue hardship will contribute to the pursuit of justice in a manner consistent with democratic principles.
  • Safeguarding Personal Liberty: To prevent potential abuses of power and to uphold the fundamental tenets of personal liberty, legislative measures should be implemented to provide individuals facing criminal charges with limited respite from arrest. This will enable them to effectively engage in legal proceedings and exercise their rights.


The Teesta Setalvad case highlights the significance of safeguarding personal liberty and granting individuals the opportunity to pursue legal remedies. The Supreme Court’s intervention to extend her respite from arrest recognizes the need to protect citizens’ rights and ensures a fair and equitable judicial process. Upholding personal liberty while balancing the interests of justice is paramount in maintaining a just and democratic society.