Arnab Goswami’s bail plea: We are on a path of destruction of personal liberty, says SC

The matter is being considered by a vacation bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee. The apex court is currently on Diwali recess.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed a strong displeasure over the Bombay High Court order dismissing Arnab Goswami’s bail plea and said High Courts are not doing enough in matters where personal liberty is denied.

A vacation bench of Justices Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee was hearing Goswami’s plea challenging the Bombay High Court order denying him bail in an abetment to suicide case. “SC is unhappy that HCs, which are constitutional courts, are not doing enough in matters where personal liberty is denied…,” Justice Chandrachud said.

He asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Maharashtra, if there was any active encouragement or instigation in the case to constitute an offence of abetment to suicide. “Otherwise look at the drastic consequences. We are dealing with personal liberty,” said Justice Chandrachud. “If this court were not to interfere today, we r proceeding on a path of destruction of personal liberty… If state govt’s target individuals in this manner, let’s send out a msg that SC is there,” he added.

Appearing before the court for Goswami, advocate Harish Salve said that Maharashtra Police seeking custodial interrogation of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami is nothing but a smokescreen to teach him a lesson.

“Allegation (against Goswami) is about withholding money which can be ascertained from documents. What’s the need for custodial interrogation? It’s just a smokescreen to teach the man a lesson,” salve said.

According to Live Law, Salve argued that Goswami was arrested on the basis of a three-year-old FIR. “That too during the Diwali week and then he is transferred from Taloja Jail,” he said adding, “There is not doubt about what they (state government) are trying to do.”

He also alleged that the power to re-investigation is being wrongly used by the Maharashtra government. Arguing that overlay of malice and fact, abuse and conduct of state power is not something that happens on daily basis, he said, “We’re past FIR stage. FIR was lodged in May 2018 & after this matter was probed. Power to re-investigation wrongly used,” ANI quoted Salve as saying.

On November 9, the HC bench of Justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik had denied bail to Goswami. The court said that “no case was made out based on facts of case as per section 439 of Criminal Procedure Code under extraordinary jurisdiction” and said its observations are in ‘prima facie nature.’

The HC gave him liberty to move the sessions court for bail under Section 439 of CrPC and directed the sessions court to dispose of the matter in four days, if filed.

Goswami and two others — Feroze Shaikh and Nitish Sarda — were arrested on November 4.

The case against Goswami pertains to the death of interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik at their bungalow in Alibaug in May 2018. According to police officials, the duo died by suicide over alleged non-payment of dues by Goswami’s channel and two other companies.

Meanwhile, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Dushyant Dave on Tuesday protested the “urgent” listing of Goswami’s petition before the two-judge bench on Wednesday.

Source: The Indian Express

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