The Bombay High Court on Friday adjourned till Saturday the hearing of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami’s plea seeking interim relief against his arrest and a stay on the police investigation in the abetment to suicide case lodged against him. The court did not pass orders for interim relief to Goswami, who is at present in judicial custody.
A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice M S Karnik, hearing Goswami’s habeas corpus petition for “immediate release” and a stay on the investigation, said it would continue hearing all parties and pass an appropriate order.
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. As per police, the duo died by suicide over alleged non-payment of dues by Goswami’s television channel and two other companies.
The HC will also hear on Saturday a petition by Adnya Naik, Anvay’s daughter, seeking re-investigation of the ‘A summary’ report filed by the police in connection to her father’s suicide case.
Goswami’s plea said he was arrested in “blatant violation of the fundamental rights to life and personal liberty” and his dignity guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. It added that the petitioner was “forced out” of his residence by around 20 officers of the Mumbai Police and was allegedly dragged into a vehicle, and that his son was assaulted in the process.
“It is shocking that a case that was decisively closed has been reopened with the sole purpose of misusing power, concocting facts and forcefully arresting the petitioner (Goswami) in a prima facie act of revenge and vengeance for his news coverage, which questioned those in power in the state of Maharashtra,” the plea said.
Goswami was represented by senior advocates Harish Salve and Aabad Ponda at the virtual hearing. They sought his interim release arguing that Goswami’s arrest was “completely illegal”.
On Thursday, while adjourning the hearing, the HC had said it was ready to examine the case and hear all parties to their “fullest satisfaction” and that respondents should get an opportunity to contest the case before it passes any order.
Goswami’s lawyers informed the court on Friday that he had filed an interim bail application under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which provides special powers to the HC or the sessions court in regard to granting bail.
Senior counsel Devadatt Kamat, representing Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, said that his client should not have been named in the plea. “He (Singh) has been arraigned by name. There is no whisper of allegation against him or no relief is claimed against him while the petition pertains to Raigad Police.”
Refusing to remove Singh’s name as a party to the case, Salve said, “My client has made allegations against him (Singh)… The plea has expressed allegations that a case, which was closed, has been reopened with malicious intentions.”
Salve further referred to an order of the Alibaug magistrate court — it had on Wednesday remanded Goswami and two other co-accused to two-week judicial custody — which has observed that the arrests appeared to be “prima facie illegal”.
Salve said that as per the magistrate, the chain of circumstances, the reason behind the deaths of Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik and the connection with the accused persons have not been established by the prosecution. “It is a continuing case of harassing the petitioner. The police were trying to secure remand, which they could not get. It is clear that the state is acting in malice. There are multiple FIRs against my client,” he added.
Seeking immediate release of Goswami by citing Supreme Court judgments, Salve argued, “What is at stake is liberty of a citizen. We do not know the curious circumstances of the suicide. Nobody has established that there is illegal omission. In these circumstances, there is no need for incarceration.”
He added, “What is the harm if the man is released on bail? Nothing has happened since 2019 in the case. The court has to strike a balance with grant of bail unless it thinks the grant of the same will imperil the investigation. Goswami’s release will not hamper the probe.”
Meanwhile, the Alibaug session court on Saturday will hear a revision petition filed by the local police challenging the district magistrate court’s order remanding Goswami and two others in judicial custody for 14 days.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines