The Maharashtra government on Monday approached the Supreme Court to pass orders to “insulate” the Mumbai Police from any pressure, threat or coercion from Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami during the investigation of his comments against Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the Palghar lynching case, PTI reported.

At least 16 complaints were filed against Goswami in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Chhattisgarh for allegedly defaming Congress President Sonia Gandhi. However, the Supreme Court on April 24, allowed the police to proceed with the investigations into one of the first information reports filed, but stayed the rest. The top court also granted interim protection to the TV anchor for three weeks and ruled that no coercive action should be taken against him.

A petition, filed through lawyer Sachin Patil, the state accused Goswami of repeatedly using his position as well as his channel to make “unjustified, unwarranted, disparaging, ridiculing, false and derogatory” statements against the police.

The petition added that Goswami “clearly abused” the journalistic freedom available to him under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, Bar and Bench reported. “Conduct of Goswami would tantamount to encroaching upon the area of investigation as also subjecting the entire criminal justice system to ridicule,” it said.

The police accused Goswami of making statements, during a debate on his Republic Bharat channel, that were aimed at “browbeating, terrorising and intimidating the investigating officer.”

“This shows an extremely disturbing state of affairs and the impunity with which the petitioner has denigrated the institution of police at large and the investigating agency entrusted with the investigations into the above cases,” the petition said. “A balance needs to be maintained between the rights of the petitioner as a senior journalist vis a vis the prerogative of the investigating agency to conduct investigations into the crime as an arm of the law without any fear, threat or pressure.”

It asked the court to pass orders to insulate the police from the petitioner and to enable officials to carry out its lawful obligations in a fair and transparent manner.

Goswami had launched a full-blown attack on Gandhi and claimed that she had orchestrated the Palghar lynching in Maharashtra. Three Mumbai residents, who were on their way to Silvassa on April 16, were lynched by local residents in Gadakchinchale village of Palghar district on the suspicion that they were thieves. Two of men were sadhus.

On April 23, Goswami had accused the Congress of attacking him and his wife Samyabrata Ray when they were returning home from work. The Mumbai Police made arrests in connection with the attack.

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