The Bombay High Court on Tuesday observed that India’s freedom will be safe as long as journalists can speak to power without being chilled by a threat and that free citizens cannot exist when the news media is ‘chained to adhere to one position.’
A division bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Riyaz Chagla, in its 38-page order, made the observations while granting interim relief and suspending FIRs against Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami for allegedly making provocative and inflammatory statements on Palghar lynching and Bandra (West) migrants gathering incidents.
The HC referred to Supreme Court’s observations in Goswami’s case and said, “India’s freedom will rest safe as long as journalists can speak to power without being chilled by a threat of reprisal; free citizens cannot exist when the news media is chained to adhere to one position.”
The court added, “We cannot have the spectacle of a Damocles’ sword hanging over the head of a journalist while conducting a public debate. India is now a mature democracy.”
The bench led by Justice Bhuyan went on to note, “Seventy years into our republic we cannot be seen to be skating on thin ice so much so that mere mention of a place of worship will lead to animosity or hatred amongst religious communities causing upheaval and conflagration on the streets. Subscribing to such a view would stifle all legitimate discussions and debates in the public domain.”
Stating that the bench would not like to make any further comment on the matter at this stage, the HC suspended until further orders two FIRs against Goswami filed at N M Joshi Marg Police station and Pydhonie Police station.
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