The plea of Arnab Goswami, the Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV, challenging the Bombay High Court denying him interim bail is being heard by a bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee in the Supreme Court. During the hearing some scathing observations were made by Justice Chandrachud against the Bombay High Court for failing uphold personal liberty of an individual. However, apart from that two Freudian slips were made by senior advocates who are representing the Maharashtra government in the Supreme Court.
Maharashtra government has maintained that the police action against Arnab Goswami has nothing to do with his journalism and his way of reporting. Speaking on Goswami’s arrest, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had claimed that the state government did not act against vindictively and that police had arrested him on the basis of evidence. The state government has been arguing in the court that Goswami’s name was mentioned by Anvay Naik, the deceased interior designer, in his suicide note and that was why Goswami was arrested.
However, during the hearing in the Supreme Court today, Justice Chandrachud questioned Sibal whether there was direct incitement on part of Goswami that led Naik to commit suicide. Justice Chandrachud asked whether a case of unpaid dues made a fit case for abetment to suicide.
To make out a case of abetment, there has to active incitement and encouragement. If money is owed to a person, is that a case of Abetment to suicide? Asks Justice Chandrachud from Sibal for #Maharashtra State#ArnabGoswai #ArnabGoswami— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) November 11, 2020
Justice Chandrachud said that if the court does not interfere today, it would be travesty of justice. Senior advocate Amit Desai representing Maharashtra government then inadvertently mentioned how the case against Arnab may not really be of direct incitement but ‘circumstances’ leading to suicide of Naik.
It is noteworthy that Goswami was not the only person who owed money to Naik, there were several others. Justice Chadrachud further questioned Sibal whether not paying up money amounted to abetment to suicide.
Assuming the FIR is the gospel truth and thats a matter of investigation but is not paying up money Abetment to suicide? It will be a Travesty of justice if bail is not granted while FIR is pending Mr. sibal, says Justice Chandrachud#ArnabGoswami— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) November 11, 2020
Defending Maharashtra government’s action against Goswami Advocate Sibal said that the freedom of expression granted under Article 19 of the Constitution was not an absolute right.
Taken 19(1)a to such an extreme extent, it is not an absolute right, My lords must also look at that, says Sibal— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) November 11, 2020
Yes, when your appeal came, CJI said that there should be responsibility on ALL sides, remarks Justice Chandrachud#ArnavGoswami
By mentioning Article 19 before the Apex Court Sibal tacitly admitted that the action of Maharashtra government against Goswami was not related to the suicide case but to his reportage. Right from the TRP case to the abetment to suicide case, the ruthless state action against Goswami following his reporting against the Thackeray government appear malicious on the face of it. Justice Chandrachud’s observations on the state action against Goswami provide a testimony to that.
Arnab Goswami has been critical of the Maharashtra government, especially during the Palghar sadhu lynching where the Mumbai Police became mere spectators as two Hindu sadhus and their driver were lynched by a mob earlier this year. Goswami had even questioned Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s silence over the matter. Congress is in alliance with the Shiv Sena and NCP in Maharashtra government.