The Supreme Court on 11 November granted interim bail to Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami who was arrested last week in connection with a 2018 abetment to suicide case. The court asked the high courts to exercise their jurisdiction to uphold personal liberty.
The bench, headed by Justice Chandrachud, granted Arnab Goswami and two other accused interim bail on a bond of Rs 50,000. The bench directed the Commissioner of Police to ensure the order is followed immediately.
Senior lawyer Harish Salve, who was representing Goswami, argued that the power to re-investigate was being wrongly used. “We are well past the FIR stage. The FIR was lodged on 5 May, 2018, and after this matter was investigated. The Power to re-investigation has been wrongly used, he said.
His argument came in the backdrop of Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh ordering a re-investigation on the basis of a fresh complaint by the family of designer interior designer Anvay Naik, who along with his mother Kumud had died by suicide in May 2018. In a suicide note, Naik had alleged non-payment of dues by firms of the accused.
A vacation bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee expressed concern over state governments targeting “individuals on the basis of ideology, difference of opinion” and said that they must realise there is an apex court to protect liberty of citizens.
The top court observed that Indian democracy is “extraordinarily resilient” and the Maharashtra government must ignore all this. “Whatever be his ideology, least I don’t even watch his channel but if in this case constitutional court’s do not interfere today, we are travelling the path of destruction undeniably,” Justice Chandrachud said, adding, “the point is can you deny personal liberty of a person on these allegations”.
“We are seeing case after case where HCs are not granting bail and failing to protect personal liberty of people,” the court added.
The news anchor had moved the top court on 10 November challenging the high court’s order denying him bail. Goswami, and two other accused Feroz Shaikh and Nitesh Sarda, was arrested on 4 November. They were produced before the court on the same day. The magistrate, however, refused to send them in police custody and remanded them in judicial custody till 18 November.