Arnab Goswami challenges arrest, HC to hear interim bail plea tomorrow
Mumbai, Nov 5: The Bombay High Court will on Friday hear an application filed by Republic TV Editor-in- Chief Arnab Goswami seeking interim bail in the 2018 abetment of suicide case in which he has been arrested.
Goswami was arrested on Wednesday from his residence at Lower Parel in Mumbai for allegedly abetting the suicide of architect and interior designer Anvay Naik, and was taken to the Alibaug police station in neighbouring Raigad district. He was produced before a magistrate's court which remanded him in judicial custody till November 18.
Goswami then moved the HC against the "illegal arrest", sought a stay to the investigation and a direction to the police to release him. He has also sought that the FIR against him be quashed.
A division bench of Justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik on Thursday directed Goswami to make the complainant in the case, Akshata Naik, Anvay's wife, a respondent to his plea.
"We have to hear all the parties concerned before considering the interim relief sought. We have to also hear the complainant as the family of the deceased has filed a petition here seeking transfer of the probe," the bench said.
"The respondents (the Maharashtra government and the complainant) are entitled to respond....We will consider the interim relief sought tomorrow," the court said.
Senior counsel Aabad Ponda, appearing for Goswami, said a bail plea filed before the Alibaug magistrate's court has been withdrawn. "The magistrate had not given clarity on when the bail plea would be heard and had also expressed difficultly in hearing the same as the case lies in the jurisdiction of the sessions court. "Hence, we are seeking for interim bail here in high court," Ponda said.
Senior counsel Harish Salve, also appearing for Goswami, argued that no prejudice will be caused to the prosecution if he was released on bail. The court, however, said it cannot consider the issue of bail without giving the respondents a chance to argue. Ponda also argued that the police have resurrected a dead case in which a closure report had been filed and accepted by the Chief Judicial Magistrate at Alibaug in Raigad district by an order dated April 16, 2019.
The petition alleged that Goswami and his son were assaulted by the police team when it arrested the journalist in a "motivated, false and closed case".
"This is another attempt of political witch-hunt and vendetta politics against the petitioner and his channel," it alleged. A case that was "decisively closed" was reopened for forcibly arresting the petitioner "in a prima facie act of revenge and vengeance for his news coverage", it said.
It claimed that in May 2018, the police had recorded the statements of Goswami and two senior officials of Republic TV, and he had also provided documents to the police about the business transactions with Naik's company.
Goswami's company ARG Outlier had paid over 90 per cent of the amount due to Naik's firm Concorde Designs as per the contract, it claimed. "In July 2019, the entire balance amount due was transferred to the bank account of Naik's company but the amount returned because the account was inoperative," it said.