Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami, who was arrested last week in a 2018 abetment to suicide case, was refused interim relief again on Monday afternoon after he filed a petition in the Bombay High Court against his arrest and the reopening of the case. Goswami was told he can go to a lower court to seek bail. The arrest and the reopening of the two-year-old case was “illegal”, Goswami told the high court.
A two-member bench on Monday said that “no case was made out in the present matter for the high court to exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction.” In its order, the High Court also said that the reopening of investigation by the state police “cannot be said to be irregular or illegal by any stretch of imagination.” Ahead of the hearing in the Bombay High Court, the Republic TV promoter moved the session’s court for bail. The High Court said the lower court must take a decision within four days.
Arnab Goswami was arrested from his Mumbai home last week (on November 4) after the police claimed they had found new evidence in the 2018 suicide case. He was initially kept at a local school, which had been turned into a quarantine centre for prisoners, but he was moved to the Taloja Jail on Sunday after he was allegedly found using a mobile phone. His supporters protested against his shifting to Taloja calling it a plan to kill him.
A day after his arrest, the High Court had refused him interim relief saying it wanted to hear the matter “in detail”. On Saturday, the High Court had said: “We can’t pass any order today. Meanwhile, we will clarify that the pendency of the petition will not bar the petitioner from approaching the sessions court for bail and if such an application is filed, it should be decided within four days.”
Arnab Goswami’s lawyers – Harish Salve and Abad Ponda – argued that the police have not met the legal requirement of getting a court’s consent for reopening the case, which led to his arrest. After Goswami’s arrest, the police were denied his custody and a magistrate’s court sent him to judicial custody. The police have challenged that order in the session’s court as they say they need Goswami’s custody for investigation. Advocate Amit Desai, who appeared for the Maharashtra government, argued: “Arrest happens before a person is produced before the magistrate. The moment your illegal arrest has resulted in a judicial remand, the question of arrest is not relevant later.”
Goswami was arrested for allegedly abetting the suicide of 53-year-old interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother in 2018. Avnay Naik, an architect and interior designer who reportedly designed Republic TV’s sets, named Arnab Goswami and two others in a suicide note in which he alleged that his dues were not paid by the channel. The case was closed earlier when the BJP was in power in Maharashtra after the police told a court that there was no evidence to proceed against the accused and prosecute them. Naik’s family appealed to the government saying the probe had been scuttled and the government ordered a re-examination of the case.
When Afternoon Voice asked various people about their take on this entire episode, here’s what they had to say.
Dr. Raju Waghmare of Congress said, “Arnab Goswami is a regular news anchor who has been arrested in the charge of abatement to suicide case. If anybody’s name comes into such a case (abatement to suicide) then it’s the duty of the police to look into this matter. There is no threat to his life as the Mumbai police are just doing their job. The BJP is creating hype in this case just because he (Arnab Goswami) is an agent of that party. And he is on their payroll.”
He further stated saying, “I want to ask BJP why they are coming into streets to protest over Arnab? Where were they (BJP) when several other journalists were attacked, jailed and killed in the past?” There is no politics; in this case, this is purely a criminal case.”
Advocate Ali Kaashif Khan Deshmukh said, “Law is equal for everyone, after police custody the accused is supposed to be shifted to judicial custody in heinous crimes cases. Therefore the accused is rightfully shifted to Taloja Jail for the alleged abetment to suicide case. He has been spewing venom time and again spewing venom through his hateful commentaries on his channel, like him many other influential people are already in Taloja as well as other jails; therefore it would be baloney to say that he has any threat to his life, because he is currently under “Judicial Custody”.
Varun Singh, an Independent Journalist said, “Arnab Goswami has made several statements that his life is in threat; the court will look into them. There are several provisions in the law to tackle such issues. Arnab’s statement which he made to the public via his own new channel should be looked into by authorities, and if any truth is found in them, then action is taken as prescribed by the law.”
Archana Sharma, Women of Substance and Social Activist said, “Law is equal for all, misuse of power has to be condemned, but one cannot be punished unless proven guilty. Human rights as laid down by the constitution should be exercised in a lawful manner. Freedom of speech is human fundamental rights but should be used with safeguards. Article 21 states that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law. The police are conducting the investigation in connection with Arnab Goswami’s case. Let truth prevail and justice is granted in a lawful manner.”
Amritesh Shet, an Engineer by profession said, “The statements or words which Arnab Goswami has used against XYZ people (without naming anyone), the reaction of those people will be unpredictable. If it’s in favour of people they will praise him, if not then it’s a life threat. It’s a normal human tendency, if you speak against people without respect no matter if the person is at fault or not, he will surely look for revenge. Talking about his life into a threat then the law is equal for everyone. And the Mumbai police are just doing their duty in this case. As of now, we can’t reach any conclusion unless anything is proven.”