The Supreme Court of India today granted bail to Republic TV Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, who was arrested by the Mumbai Police at the behest of the Maharashtra government last week.
A Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justice Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra hearing the petition said that Bombay High Court made an error in rejecting the application for grant of interim bail on technical grounds. The apex court also directed the Raigad police to ensure the compliance of the order of release of Arnab Goswami forthwith.
As the top court ordered Arnab Goswami’s bail, social media websites were flooded with memes that mocked the Shiv Sena party, Maha Vikas Aghadi, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi after Arnab secured interim relief in what is widely believed as a state-sponsored witch-hunt against the Republic TV.
One of the Twitter users shared Sanjay Raut’s picture saying “Next time SC judges will be from Shiv Sena”.
Next time SC Judges will be from Shivsena. pic.twitter.com/Hz58mWfg2q— Darshan Pathak (@darshanpathak) November 11, 2020
Another Twitter user shared a meme of Arnab Goswami chasing ‘stand-up comedian’ Kunal Kamra and Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi.
Scene after Arnab got the bail 😹 pic.twitter.com/7fCSoEf5Pi— Babu Raowl (@RaowlGandhi) November 11, 2020
Many others took a dig at the Maharashtra government which has shown little tolerance and showed eager alacrity to prosecute those who have dared to mock them on social media websites. One Twitter user said he wouldn’t create memes on Maharashtra government as he has no wish to spend his Diwali in jail.
gaurang sir requesting gaurang sir not to make a meme pic.twitter.com/BvDFtNxi7o— Dr. Gill (@ikpsgill1) November 11, 2020
The jibe was in response to the arrest of one Sameet Thakkar, who continues to remain under arrest for simply referring to Maharashtra environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray as “baby penguin”.
Others too joined in to poke fun at the Maharashtra government leaders after the top court granted bail to Arnab Goswami.
Arnab Goswami arrested in a closed case by Alibaug Police
The Republic TV Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami was arrested last Wednesday in connection with abetment to a suicide case of one Anvay Naik that was already closed. The Mumbai Police officers barged into the residence of Mr Goswami, manhandling him and his family members before arresting him.
Since then Arnab Goswami had been seeking ad-interim relief but was consistently denied bail by the Bombay High Court. He then approached the Supreme Court, which not only issued an immediate bail order for the journalist but also rapped the High Court for denying him bail.
Arnab Goswami at loggerheads with the Maharashtra government
Goswami had been in the bad books of the Maharashtra government and Mumbai Police ever since he raised uncomfortable questions of the Sonia Gandhi over her silence on the horrifying lynching of the Hindu Sadhus in Palghar and referred to her with her maiden name “Antonio Maino”. Goswami had also been sharply critical of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government and Mumbai Police in the Palghar lynching case, following which a concerted attempt was undertaken to attack Republic TV.
Multiple FIRs were lodged against Arnab Goswami and Republic TV for their coverage on Palghar Hindu Sadhus lynching and Bandra migrant crisis. He was also interrogated for more than 11 hours by Mumbai Police. Subsequently, a Republic TV reporter and a cameraman were arrested by the police for pursuing an investigative story in Navi Mumbai. Journalist Pradeep Bhandari of Republic TV was encircled by Mumbai Police officials and illegally detained.
The witch-hunt against Republic TV reached a crescendo when Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh convened a press conference accusing the channel of indulging in manipulating TRPs. It was later found that India Today was mentioned in the complaint and not Republic TV. Accounts of witnesses being coerced into naming Republic TV as accused has also come to fore. The culmination of the witch-hunt, however, was the arrest of Arnab Goswami last Wednesday.