SC Begins Hearing Arnab’s Plea Against Rejection of Bail Plea
Bombay HC had held there was no reason to use its writ jurisdiction to grant Goswami interim bail on 9 November.
The Supreme Court of India has begun hearing Republic TV editor in-chief Arnab Goswami’s challenge against the Bombay High Court’s rejection of his interim bail plea.
The pleas by Goswami and two other accused in the case are being heard by a vacation bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee.
The high court on Monday, 9 November, had refused to grant Goswami interim bail using its powers under Article 226 of the Constitution, saying he should instead go to a sessions court and apply for regular bail.
Goswami filed his challenge in the apex court on Tuesday.
WHY DID THE BOMBAY HIGH COURT REFUSE HIM INTERIM BAIL?
The bench of Justices S.S Shinde and Justice M.S Karnik held that “no case had been made out for grant of extraordinary relief”, and that Goswami had alternative routes to secure bail in the 2018 abetment of suicide case.
The judges clarified that these observations should have no impact on Goswami’s plea for bail under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, that has been filed with the local sessions court.
The Alibaug sessions court will hear Goswami’s bail plea sometime on Thursday, 12 November.
Goswami had filed two petitions in the Bombay High Court after his arrest on Wednesday last week: a habeas corpus plea arguing his arrest was illegal, and a plea to quash the FIR against him.
His lawyers, senior advocates Abad Ponda and Harish Salve, made detailed submissions to argue that Goswami’s arrest was “illegal”, citing comments made by the magistrate who had sent him to judicial custody (while rejecting the police’s request for police custody).
Salve also argued that this was part of a wider “pattern” of attempts to silence Goswami by the Maharashtra government, citing the numerous FIRs and cases against him for various issues, including his coverage of the Palghar lynching, the fake TRP case, and the Maharashtra Assembly’s breach of privilege motion.
During the hearings on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the court had questioned why the high court should consider the bail plea at this time, since the option of regular bail under Section 439 CrPC before the sessions court had not been exhausted by Goswami.
After reviewing Goswami’s lawyers’ arguments, and those on behalf of the Maharashtra government and police, the court found that there was little basis to argue that the investigation of the case was being conducted illegally, or that the FIR did not disclose any offences by Arnab.
These had been two key contentions by Ponda and Salve, to explain why the high court should exercise its extraordinary writ jurisdiction under Article 226 to grant Goswami interim relief.
As these could not be substantiated, the judges held that regular bail was the appropriate remedy for Goswami, and hence rejected his pleas. However, they did reiterate that the Alibaug sessions court should decide his regular bail application within four days.
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