The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami to appear before the police for questioning on June 10, in connection with two first information reports filed against him for spreading hatred and insulting religious beliefs through his television show, Live Law reported.
A division bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Riyaz Chagla heard a petition filed by Goswami, seeking the cancellation of the FIRs filed against him on April 22 and May 2.
Goswami has been booked in connection with an episode on his channel on April 29, where he made communal remarks about a huge gathering of migrant workers outside the Bandra station on April 14. Multiple FIRs have also been filed against Goswami for linking Congress President Sonia Gandhi to the mob lynching in Maharashtra’s Palghar district. One of the FIRs related to the Palghar incident was filed by Maharashtra minister and Congress leader Nitin Raut.
The FIRs against Goswami were filed under Sections 153 (punishment for promoting disharmony, enmity or feelings of hatred between different groups) and 295 A (punishment for Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code. He had asked the court to cancel the FIRs, citing free speech and right to life with dignity.
Appearing for Goswami, lawyer Harish Salve told the court that he should be exempted from appearing before the police station in Pydhonie since it came under a containment zone. Senior Congress leader and lawyer Kapil Sibal, who represented the Maharashtra government, said he should report at a different police station in that case.
“Why is he afraid of facing the investigation officer?” Sibal asked. “He goes to his studio every day. Is he a special person that he will not be interrogated?”
After hearing both sides, the bench directed Goswami to go to the NM Joshi Marg Police Station on June 10 instead of Pydhonie Police station. The court posted the matter for hearing on June 12.
On May 19, the Supreme Court had rejected Goswami’s petition to cancel the FIR against him for his comments on Gandhi. He had also sought a transfer of the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The court had, however, extended his protection from arrest for three more weeks.