The Supreme Court on Friday elaborated on its reasons for granting bail to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami in an abetment to suicide case and noted that criminal law should not become “a tool for selective harassment of citizens”, Live Law reported.
The court said in its detailed judgement that Goswami’s interim bail will remain in force for four more weeks after the Bombay High Court decides on his pending petition in the case, according to PTI. Goswami can move the Supreme Court if the High Court rejects his petition to quash the first information report against him.
A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee rebuked the Bombay High Court, opining that it had “abdicated its role as a protector of constitutional values and fundamental rights”, according to Live Law.
“Courts must be alive to the need to safeguard the public interest in ensuring that the due enforcement of criminal law is not obstructed,” the bench said. “The fair investigation of crime is an aid to it. Equally is the duty of courts across the spectrum – the district judiciary, the High Courts and the Supreme Court – to ensure that criminal law does not become a tool for selective harassment of citizens.”
The Supreme Court bench also noted that prima facie, the FIR against Goswami did not establish the charge of abetment to suicide.
The Supreme Court had granted bail to Goswami on November 11. It had then too criticised the Bombay High Court for denying relief to the TV anchor. “The High Court made a gross mistake,” the top court said, according to Live Law. “The question whether enquiry could have started is up for consideration. If there are serious questions to be tried, why no interim relief? If the High Court felt there were serious questions for consideration, why no interim release was granted to him?”
Chandrachud noted that the Bombay High Court wrote a 56-page detailed order, but did not deal with a basic question on whether an offence was made out prima facie in the case. He also said High Courts were denying personal liberty to people in several cases.
Goswami and two other people – Feroz Shaikh and Nitesh Sarda – had challenged the Bombay High Court’s order rejecting their interim bail plea in the top court. Shaikh and Sarda’s plea for interim release were also accepted. The hearing lasted for over five hours, with a break in between.
The accused allegedly 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.