No Interim Relief for Arnab Yet, HC to Hear Arrest Pleas on Friday
Goswami was arrested for allegedly abetting the suicide of interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother in 2018.
The Bombay High Court deferred hearing the petitions filed by Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami against his arrest, as well as to quash the 2018 FIR against him for alleged abetment of Anvay Naik’s 2018 suicide, till 3 pm on Friday, 6 November.
Goswami, represented by senior advocates Adar Ponda and Harish Salve, had sought interim relief from the court on Thursday, 5 November, to at least be released on bail while the petitions are heard.
The bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik however refused to grant interim relief at this time and said that they could not grant this without hearing from the state and other respondents including the informant in the case (Anvay Naik’s wife, Akshata) which could not happen on Thursday as notice of the pleas was only served on them too late.
The judges issued notice in the case after asking Goswami’s lawyers to issue notice to the informant Akshata Naik, and said the matter would be taken up on Friday.
What did Goswami’s Lawyers Argue?
Senior advocate Adar Ponda tried to convince the court that the entire reinvestigation of the case, which had been closed in April 2019, is illegal, and therefore Arnab’s continued detention is also illegal. As a result, he urged the court to grant interim bail to Goswami.
“Even a second of illegal detention cannot be countenanced by a constitutional court,” Ponda argued, saying the high court had the power to protect Arnab’s constitutional rights.
He noted that once the judicial magistrate in Raigad had accepted the police’s closure report on 16 April 2019, the police could not investigate the matter further without receiving the magistrate’s permission, citing some judgments including the Supreme Court’s Bhagwant Singh decision (1985) and the Bombay High Court’s own decision in the Vinubhai Malviya case.
“If an ‘A’ Summary report exists on record, then can’t resurrect a dead man,” he argued. “Every step of the investigation from 15 October (when the police informed the magistrate they were looking into the matter again) including the arrest is illegal.”
Ponda observed that Akshata Naik had just filed a petition in the Bombay High Court that the same judges would be considering, in which she had challenged the order to close the investigation in April 2019. This showed, he said, that the other side understood that there was no way an investigation could take place at this time without a direction from the courts.
Harish Salve urged the court to keep in mind the numerous cases against Goswami and Republic by the Maharashtra administration, and said they “could not ignore” the implications of how Goswami was being hounded. “There is no reason or ground to arrest him and so he should be given interim bail.”
However, the judges stood firm that they would need to hear from the respondents before they could grant such a relief. Senior advocates Amit Desai, Kapil Sibal and Shirish Gupte are expected to argue for the other side on Friday. One potential complication for the case is that the court will be going on its Diwali break after Friday, which means that the request for interim relief will have to be decided by then, or will then either be delayed for a week unless a vacation bench hears it.
Goswami’s lawyers have separately filed a bail plea in the sessions court, Ponda informed the court, for which no date has yet been set. They had withdrawn an earlier bail plea filed with a magistrate in the afternoon.
The senior journalist was produced in the Alibag court on Wednesday after his arrest and was sent to 14-day judicial custody until 18 November.
The local police force from Raigad had sought a 14-days’ remand, on the basis that they needed to question Goswami, and he needed to be kept in custody as he is an ‘influential person’ who might try to alter the investigation.
The 2018 Case That Was Reopened
The Maharashtra Police arrested Goswami for allegedly abetting the suicide of a 53-year-old interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik in 2018.
In a suicide note, Naik said that he and his mother were in financial distress caused because large payments owed to his company Concorde Designs Pvt Ltd, had not been paid by three clients, including Arnab Goswami/Republic TV. The amount owed is said to be Rs 83 lakh.
Republic TV Denies Allegations, Says ‘Paid Dues’
Meanwhile, BJP MLA Ram Kadam will meet the Maharashtra Governor at 10:30 am on Thursday to discuss Goswami’s arrest, LiveLaw reported.
In a statement released by Republic TV, the channel claimed that all relevant dues – amounting to 90 percent of the total value of the contract – had been paid.
The channel also said that it had made attempts to make a full and final settlement with Naik’s wife Akshata and daughter Anya, but had not received a response from them.
(With inputs from LiveLaw.)
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