Arnab Bail Plea to be Heard by Alibaug Sessions Court on Thursday
The sessions court also allowed police to question Arnab daily for 3 hours in Taloja Jail, where he is being held.
The hearing of Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswam’s bail plea by the Alibaug sessions court has been postponed till Thursday, 12 November.
The court will take up the bail applications after announcing its decision, also on Thursday, regarding the Maharashtra government’s request for revision of the magistrate’s order sending Goswami to judicial custody. Arguments on the revision application were heard on Tuesday, 10 November.
The court is required to deliver its verdict on Goswami’s bail pleas within four days of its date of filing (Monday, 9 November), which means it has to deliver a decision by Friday. This is as per the orders of the Bombay High Court, which had rejected his pleas for interim bail, and instructed him to apply for regular bail in the sessions court.
The high court held that he had an “alternate and efficacious remedy” under Section 439 of the CrPC to approach the sessions court, and hence there was no reason for the high court to use its extraordinary writ jurisdiction to set him free.
REVISION APPLICATION TO BE DECIDED FIRST
Arnab Goswami was arrested on 4 November in connection with the 2018 abetment of suicide case relating to the deaths of interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik.
The local Alibaug (Raigad) police produced him before a magistrate on the same day, who rejected their request for police custody, stating that the arrest seemed “illegal” and questioning the basis of the police’s allegation that Goswami abetted the suicides of Anvay and Kumud Naik in May 2018.
"Due scrutiny of all submitted documents suggest that the connection with the accused and the deceased and the relation between the two suicides need to be clearly established clearly before demanding for police custody,” the magistrate had said. However, the magistrate did send Goswami to 14 days’ judicial custody, ie where the jail is under scrutiny of the courts.
The Maharashtra government moved a revision application in the Alibaug sessions court against the magistrate’s order, which was briefly heard on Monday. They have argued against the observations by the magistrate – including that the ongoing investigation is illegal because a closure report had been accepted in April 2019 for this case by a magistrate – and sought police custody of Goswami.
The issues raised by the magistrate as well as other arguments were raised by Goswami’s lawyer, senior advocate Abad Ponda, during his submissions against the Maharashtra government’s revision application. Ponda also noted that the issue was merely a contractual dispute between the deceased and Arnab Goswami’s company ARG Outlier (which owns Republic TV), and this could not be considered abetment of suicide.
He also said Goswami had cooperated with the investigation from the start and so there was no need for him to be taken into police custody.
Public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat contested these submissions, noting that the Bombay High Court had rejected the argument that the investigation in the case was illegal, as well as that there wasn’t enough of a role alleged against Arnab Goswami for him to be an accused in the case.
With regard to the closure report, he argued that this had been done incorrectly, as Anvay Naik’s wife and daughter had not been given an opportunity to oppose the closure report, an issue noted by the high court.
Gharat argued that police custody was required in light of Goswami’s influence and strong political support. Custodial interrogation was required so that he could be confronted with relevant evidence.
He also took exception to the language used by Ponda during his submissions.
The sessions judge had on Monday issued an order allowing the police to question Goswami for three hours daily in Taloja Jail, where he is currently being held in judicial custody. Goswami had initially been held at a quarantine centre in a school, but after reports that he had got access to a mobile phone, he was moved on Sunday to Taloja Jail in Navi Mumbai.
While the Bombay High Court had passed observations which appear to reject the two concerns raised by the magistrate, the bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik clarified that their observations cannot be used elsewhere.
However, the legal reasoning used by them has been used, as expected, oppose Arnab’s bail plea and support revision.
The Supreme Court will hear Arnab Goswami’s challenge to the Bombay High Court order rejecting his interim bail plea on Wednesday, 11 November. Goswami filed the plea on Tuesday, even after his regular bail application had been filed in the sessions court.
As the apex court is currently on its Diwali holidays, the matter will be heard by the vacation bench, currently comprised of Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee. The pleas, by Arnab and two other accused in the case, will be taken up soon after the courts sits at 10:30 am on Wednesday.
(With inputs from PTI.)
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