The Delhi High Court on Thursday questioned Republic TV’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami for holding a parallel inquiry and trial in Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar’s death case, and instructed him to exercise restraint in his reportage, reported PTI.
Justice Mukta Gupta said the court pointed out that this was not a gag order on the media but asserted that the sanctity of the investigation had to be maintained. The court was hearing Tharoor’s plea, which sought an interim injunction against Goswami and to restrain him from broadcasting Pushkar’s case as it was still pending.
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, on behalf of Tharoor, contended that despite a chargesheet that does not cite a murder case, Goswami has claimed in his shows that he was sure that Pushkar was murdered, reported Live Law. Sibal also noted the court’s December 2017 order, in which Goswami was asked to refrain from conducting a media trial.
“Can a man be abused like this in a public debate?” Sibal asked the court. “How can he [Goswami] say that a murder was committed, when the chargesheet says otherwise? This can’t continue like this till this court hears the matter.”
The court rebuked Goswami for implying that it was a murder case when the chargesheet was based on abetment to suicide charges. “Were you there at the spot, are you an eyewitness?” the court asked. “Do you even know what constituted murder? You need to first understand what murder is before claiming that a murder took place.”
Goswami’s lawyer Malvika Trivedi argued that the editor had credible evidence from a doctor of the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences. However, the court said that Goswami was not in the field of evidence collection. “Can the media act as an appellate authority over what is stated in the chargesheet?” it added.
Pushkar was found dead in a New Delhi hotel in January 2014. The police have charged Tharoor with abetting suicide. Tharoor had claimed the charges against him were “preposterous and baseless” and a product of a “malicious and vindictive campaign”.
In March last year, the Delhi High Court had rejected Goswami and Republic TV’s petition that sought to quash a court’s order to register a First Information Report against them. The January 21 magisterial court’s order was based on a complaint filed by Tharoor in connection with his wife’s death.