The Supreme Court on Monday extended the interim protection from arrest granted to Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami.
Goswami has been booked by Mumbai Police for allegedly hurting religious sentiments during a news show. This apart, multiple FIRs have been filed against him for his allegedly defamatory remarks against Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
“Until the judgment is pronounced by this Court, the protection which was granted to the petitioner in. the order dated 24 April 2020 shall continue to remain in operation,” a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah said.
Appearing for Goswami, Senior Advocate Harish Salve said, “They are trying to stifle an unpleasant voice. This is a political party targeting a journalist. All complainants are members of one political party. They have a problem with the government. They want to teach this journalist a lesson.”
He urged the court to transfer the probe to an agency like CBI. He said the “nature of the” second FIR against Goswami over a show on the migrant gathering outside Bandra station on April 14 “shows that it’s arm-twisting tactic”.
Salve said Goswami was questioned during lockdown and one of the two officers who questioned him had tested positive for Covid-19.
Justice Chandrachud said the court would grant Goswami the liberty to move Bombay High Court and said, “We must ensure somebody is not subject to harassment but we should not create an environment where anybody in particular is exempted from the normal course of proceedings.”
Objecting to Salve’s plea to transfer the case to the CBI, Maharashtra government counsel, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, said, “CBI investigation will go into your hands”.
Salve replied that Sibal’s statement “shows the need” to transfer the case to CBI.
Sibal denied that Goswami was being harassed and said he was only asked relevant questions. He said Goswami should “stop this communal violence and communal mongering”.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, “This is a case where the way in which state police has acted is undesirable. The 12 hours interrogation is slightly disturbing me.”
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