While the Mumbai police have been relentless in its witch-hunt against Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami on the behest of the Maharashtra government, the closure report filed in the Anvay Naik suicide case in 2019 puts the Mumbai police in the dock.
The Background of the Case
The case pertains to the death of an interior designer Anvay Naik, who committed suicide in May 2018 and left behind a note alleging that Arnab Goswami had not cleared his dues to the tune of ₹83 lacs. The suicide note had also two named two other people, namely Feroz Shaikh and Nitesh Sarda for non-clearance of dues of ₹4 crores and 55 lacs respectively. It is pertinent to note that the case was closed in April 2019 and has now been unilaterally opened by the police seemingly, to hound Arnab Goswami.
As per an exclusive report by The Indian Express, the officers investigating the Anvay Naik suicide case had found no links between Republic TV Editor Arnab Goswami, Nitesh Sarda and Feroz Shaikh. They found no evidence that could establish that the trio made life ‘unbearable’ for Naik or led to the abetment of suicide. As such, the Raigad police investigating the case had filed an ‘A summary’ in its closure report before the magistrate in April 2019. It is important to mention that an ‘A summary’ is filed in the absence of adequate evidence against the accused, thereby preventing the cops from submitting a charge sheet.
No links between Arnab Goswami and other accused
“The three accused who have been named work in different fields, locations and no link between the three has been established in the investigation…No evidence has been found so far in the investigation that the action on the part of the three accused named in the suicide note until now, individually or together, made it unbearable for the deceased to continue living or had no option but to commit suicide. Hence, in the absence of evidence in this case, ‘A final’ summary should be accepted,” the closure report emphasised.
Anvay Naik’s company was in a huge loss
It further noted, “Investigation has revealed that since the past six to seven years (prior to 2018), Concorde (Anvay Naik’s company) has been facing financial losses, due to which Anvay Naik and his mother were under mental stress. Since his mother was a partner in the company, he throttled her to death, wrote a suicide note and then hung himself.”
The closure report reiterated that Concorde Designs Private Limited had left the work incomplete of several clients, including that of the ones named by Anvay Naik in the suicide note. “The accused then carried out the work among themselves and paid the vendors, as per the documents submitted before the police,” the report clarified. The closure report, submitted by the Raigad Police was accepted by the Chief Judicial Magistrate L G Pachchhe on April 16, 2019.
Indian Express exclusively accessed the annual statutory returns filed by Concorde with the Registrar of Companies. As per the details, the company had a debt of ₹26.5 crores in the fiscal year 2016. Interestingly, the company soon became inactive and also stopped filing its annual returns since that year.
Accusation by Anvay Naik’s family
When the closure report was submitted before the Court, advocate Vaibhav Karnik representing the victim’s family had alleged that the veracity of documents submitted by the police was doubtful. He claimed, “The police closure report was based on several documents like debit notes submitted by the accused that were not even countersigned and hence, their veracity is doubtful.”
Anvay Naik’s daughter, Adnya Naik, had also claimed that the Arnab Goswami and the other accused knew each other. She alleged, “When my father would ask Feroz Shaikh to pay up, he would say even Goswami has not done so. How did he know who had made the payments? It means they were linked to each other.” She also claimed that Inspector Suresh H Varade, who investigated the case, wanted to ‘discredit’ the case and intimidated them into signing a statement, taking the complaint back.
After the Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh illegally directed a re-investigation in the case in May, without the permission of the Magistrate, the victim’s wife Akshata Naik had also submitted 35 reasons on October 12 for reopening the case.
Action against the investigating officer
Meanwhile, the Mumbai police had initiated a departmental probe against Inspector Suresh H Varade, for allegedly omitting the facts of the case. He has been moved to the district traffic department from the post of the inspector. The family of the victim had alleged that Vadare continued to investigate the case, despite his transfer to the traffic department. Akshata Naik further alleged that Arnab Goswami had given his statement to a senior Mumbai police officer in his cabin and the investigation report makes no mention of the same.
Arnab Goswami sent to judicial custody
Earlier, the Alibaug court rejected the plea of Mumbai police plea seeking 14 days of police custody of Arnab Goswami, who was arrested on November 4. After a hearing that went into the midnight, the Alibaug Court granted 14 days of judicial custody for the Republic TV editor-in-chief, which meant that the Mumbai police would not interrogate him in its custody.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate Sunaina Pingle had noted that the police failed to establish prima facie link between the deceased and Goswami. “Taking into consideration the reasons behind the arrest of the accused persons and the arguments put forth by the accused persons, the arrest appears to be prima facie illegal…There is no cogent evidence submitted that warrants this court to remand the arrested accused to police custody,” the CJM observed.