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If A State Targets An Individual Like That, A Strong Message Needs To Be Sent Out: SC On Arnab Bail Hearing

Mumbai: The Supreme Court on Wednesday, hearing the demand for relief in the suicide case of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, asked the High Courts to use their jurisdiction to maintain personal liberty.

A leave bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indira Banerjee is hearing a petition filed by Arnab Goswami challenging the November 9 order of the Bombay High Court which refused to grant him interim relief in the case.

“Whatever be his ideology… but if in this case, if constitutional courts do not interfere today, we are undeniably traveling the path of destruction. We must send a message today to the High Courts as well. Please exercise your jurisdiction to uphold personal liberty,” Justice DY Chandrachud, heading the bench hearing the case, said.

“If we as a constitutional court do not lay down law and protect liberty then who will?… If a state targets an individual like that, a strong message needs to be sent out…Our democracy is extraordinarily resilient,” says Justice Chandrachud of Supreme Court.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Goswami, argued that malice and redundancy of fact, and misuse of state power and conduct is not something that happens on a day to day basis.

“We are well connected to the FIR phase. The FIR was filed on May 5, 2018, and the matter was investigated. The power to re-examine has been wrongly exercised. The High Court has The Bombay Police has regained power. The designation of this officer has been disinvested by confusing who possesses this power,” Salve said.

He asked what it might be like to commit suicide when a person was in financial difficulty and committed suicide. “The matter remained quiet until May 2020. The Palghar incident occurred on April 16. Republic TV ran it on April 2. In May 2020, orders for reconsideration in a suicide case were ordered. But reinvestment can only be on a court order.” Salve added.

Justice Chandrachud said that proactively abetment and encouragement would have to be taken to solve a kidnapping case. The judge asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing on behalf of the Maharashtra government, if it owed money to a person, then it was a case of kidnapping.

“We are dealing with personal liberty here and because he was owed money, Naik committed suicide due to financial stress. Is this a case of custodial questioning?… Assuming the FIR is the gospel truth and that is a matter of investigation but is not paying up money abetment to suicide? It will be a travesty of justice if bail is not granted while FIR is pending,” Justice Chandrachud noted.

On November 4, Goswami was arrested in connection with the 2018 suicide case. Later, he was sent to 14-day judicial custody by a lower court that day.

The suicide case, in which a closure report was filed in 2019, was reopened after Naik’s wife Akshata approached a court. In September this year, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had ordered a re-investigation into the case after a fresh complaint by Naik’s daughter.

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