Senior lawyer and Supreme Court Bar Association President Dushyant Dave on Tuesday sought to know from the Supreme Court registry how a bail appeal filed by Republic TV anchor Arnab Goswami was listed urgently for a hearing on Wednesday, when similar cases have been pending for months, Bar and Bench reported.
Earlier in the day, Goswami had moved the Supreme Court against the Bombay High Court’s decision denying him interim bail in a case of abetting suicide. The matter will be heard by a bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud on Wednesday.
Goswami is currently in judicial custody at the Taloja Central Prison in Navi Mumbai after he was arrested on November 4.
In a strongly-worded letter to the Supreme Court secretary general, Dave said such extraordinarily urgent listings “cannot and does not take place” without specific orders from the Chief Justice of India. Dave sought to know if there was such a direction or if the secretary general or the registrar of listing was giving special preference to Goswami.
Dave alleged that the selective listing of matters that the Supreme Court registry was indulging in for the last eight months during the Covid-19 pandemic was a matter of serious concern. “Why is this selective listing taking place when system is supposedly computerised and is to work automatically?” he asked.
Flagging several problems that have plagued the Supreme Court functioning in the last few months, Dave pointed out that fewer court benches are in session daily and some of them do not sit during court hours “due to unknown reasons or may be due to technological challenges”.
This, the senior lawyer said, has had a debilitating effect on justice delivery. “So, likes of Shri Goswami get special treatment,” he said. “Ordinary Indians are made to suffer, including imprisonment, which are many times illegal and unauthorised.”
He then urged that Goswami’s plea should not be taken up till all petitions with urgent hearing requests filed before November 10 are heard.
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.
In 2019, the Maharashtra Police had closed the case. However, on November 4, Goswami was arrested and remanded to 14-judicial custody, with the police stating that they were now investigating the matter again. On Monday, he was shifted from a makeshift Covid-19 quarantine centre he was held in to the Taloja Central Prison in Navi Mumbai, after the police alleged that he was using a cellphone in custody.
On Monday, the Bombay High Court refused to stop the investigation and grant Goswami bail, stating that there was no prima facie case for the court to invoke its extraordinary jurisdiction.