The Bombay High Court on Thursday refused to grant Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami interim relief after he was arrested in a 2018 abetment to suicide case, Bar and Bench reported. The court will hear the matter on Friday at 3 pm.
Goswami and two other people – Feroz Shaikh and Nitesh Sarda – are alleged to have failed to pay money they owed to an interior designer named Anvay Naik, managing director of Concorde Designs Private Limited. Naik and his mother were found dead in their home in Kavir village near Mumbai in 2018. A suicide note said that the Goswami, Shaikh and Sarda had not paid dues amounting to Rs 5.4 crore.
The Republic TV anchor was arrested on Wednesday morning from his residence at Lower Parel in Mumbai and sent to 14-day judicial custody. Goswami filed a petition in the Bombay High Court, challenging his “illegal arrest”. He sought immediate release and directions to quash the first information report filed against him in 2018.
A bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik asked Goswami to make the complainant in the case, Akshata Naik, the wife of Anvay, a respondent to his petition.
Advocate Aabad Ponda, representing Goswami, told the court that the anchor’s detention “just keeps getting illegal” and claimed that the complainant is just trying to “resurrect” a closed case.
“There are other litigants, matters pending,” the court told Ponda. “We are ready to examine [Goswami’s petition], but we have to keep in mind that we have not issued notice, respondents should get opportunity to reply. The respondents [the Maharashtra government and the complainant] are entitled to respond...We will consider the interim relief sought tomorrow.”
Senior lawyer Harish Salve, also arguing for Goswami, asked: “Will heavens fall on Maharashtra if he [Goswami] is released on interim?”
Ponda, meanwhile, told the court that the police have opened a case in which a closure report had been filed and accepted by the Chief Judicial Magistrate at Alibag in Raigad district by an order dated April 16, 2019, according to PTI.
In his petition, Goswami claimed his arrest was a “witch-hunt” and vendetta politics against him and Republic TV. He also called it “an act of revenge and vengeance” for the channel’s news coverage.
“It is a settled principle of law that to attract the ingredients of abetment, the intention of the accused to aid or instigate or abet the deceased to commit suicide is necessary,” the petition added. “In the present case, by no stretch of imagination can it be said that there existed an intention to aid, instigate or abet the deceased to commit suicide on the part of the petitioner. Merely because a person has been named in the suicide note, one cannot jump to the conclusion that he is an offender under section 306, Indian Penal Code.”
Goswami’s arrest ‘appears to be illegal’, says Alibaug court
On Wednesday, a court at Alibaug in Maharashtra had observed that the arrest of Goswami and two other accused “appears to be prima facie illegal”. Chief Judicial Magistrate Sunaina Pingle, after examining the case diary and other relevant documents, noted that the prosecution failed to prima facie establish a link between the deceased and the accused persons.
“Taking into consideration the reasons behind the arrest of the accused persons and the arguments put forth by the accused persons, the arrest appears to be prima facie illegal,” the court said. “There is no cogent evidence submitted that warrants this court to remand the arrested accused to police custody,” the court said.
Pingle also said the Alibaug Police did not seek the magistrate’s permission before reopening the case.