SC reserves order in Arnab Goswami anticipatory bail plea
The Supreme Court has reserved orders in a petition moved by Republic TV founding editor Arnab Goswai, extending interim protection to him till then.
The top court reserved its orders after hearing a heated debate between counsels for Goswami, state of Maharashtra and the centre (represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta) on Monday. Goswami filed a plea before the Supreme Court seeking protection against arrest in a FIR lodged against him. The complainant had alleged that Goswami had communalised a gathering of migrants in Mumbai by claiming that members of the Muslim community had gathered there. Reports and inquiries have since said that the gathering was of migrant workers, stressed by the lockdown, trying to returm home.
In Mondays hearing, senior advocate Harish Salve appeared for Goswami and senior advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for Maharashtra. Salve said that the investigation was a direct attack on press freedom if the police were to grill Goswami for several hours or arrest him for a broadcast and sought protection from coercive action.
The SC bench said that they did not want to create special privileges for Goswami. "We must ensure somebody is not subject to harassment, but we should not create an environment where anybody in particular is exempted from the normal course of proceedings," said Justice DY Chandrachud.
An archive of live updates from the proceedings are available here on Livelaw.in.
The judges said that Goswami should have approached the Bombay HC first before the Supreme Court. It has extended interim protection to Goswami till they pronounce the order on the plea.
In another case, Goswami was recently given protection after mutliple criminal defamation cases were filed against him for allegedly denigrating Indian National Congress party President Sonia Ganhi in a separate broadcast questioning her silence on the alleged lynching of three travellers in Palghar, Maharashtra in April 2020. Following that programme, the Mumbai Police summoned Goswami and questioned him for 12 hours. Goswami has said that the police were deliberately delaying the investigation of an attack on his car in which he and a colleague were traveling after the broadcast.
The Mumbai Police had arrested two people in connection with the complaint filed by Goswami. The Supreme Court had granted Goswami respite from arrest in the defamation case till he files for anticipatory bail from the Bombay HC.