The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami to appear before Mumbai Police on June 10 for interrogation while hearing a petition by the journalist seeking quashing of two FIRs filed against him at Pydhonie and NM Joshi Marg police stations. The bench directed Goswami to appear at NM Joshi Marg police station.
A division bench of Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Riyaz Chagla heard through videoconferencing a criminal writ plea filed by Goswami through advocate Madhavi Doshi seeking various reliefs, including quashing of two FIRs filed against him on April 22 and May 2. Goswami had sought exemption from appearing before the police for interrogation, which was denied.
The FIRs were registered under Section 153 A (punishment for promoting disharmony, enmity or feelings of hatred between different groups) and 295 A (punishment for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the IPC among others. Goswami sought that imposition of these two sections be declared by the court as violation of constitutional rights of free speech and right to life with dignity.
Goswami has been booked in connection with a TV show on April 29, regarding his comments on migrants gathering outside Bandra railway station on April 14. Apart from this, multiple FIRs have been filed against him over a TV show on April 21, wherein he questioned Congress president Sonia Gandhi over the lynching of two sadhus and their driver in Palghar.
The Supreme Court, on May 19, had rejected a petition by Goswami seeking quashing of the FIRs and transfer of the case to the CBI and extended his protection from arrest for three more weeks.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Goswami, said though the issue was pending before the court, he had received a notice from Pydhonie police station asking him to report on June 10 for interrogation based on an FIR filed by Raza Education and Welfare Trust.
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal and Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare argued that the allegations were sensitive in nature and Goswami should be directed to appear before the police station to cooperate with investigating officers and complete the probe. Salve, however, submitted that he should be exempted from appearing at Pydhonie police station as it falls under the containment zone.
After hearing the submissions, the bench directed Goswami to attend NM Joshi Marg police station on June 10 instead of Pydhonie police station. The HC directed officers from Pydhonie police station to interrogate him there instead. The court posted further hearing on June 12.
On Tuesday, Goswami issued a statement through Republic TV twitter account and said that Mumbai Police has called him for interrogation again while the channel exposed the truth behind Palghar and Bandra incident and the reports hurt political interests.
He added, “I will go to the police station again tomorrow. People of India know the truth and are with me and Republic media network. Truth is with me. Facts are on my side.”
— Republic (@republic) June 9, 2020
The channel’s twitter account said that Mumbai Police has called Goswami for interrogation at 2 pm, while Group CFO S Sundaram has been called at 11 am on Wednesday, June 10.
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