Synopsis: The Supreme Court granted Arnab Goswami interim bail in the abetment of suicide case of 2018, which the police said was reopened at the request of the family of Anvay Naik.
Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV, Arnab Goswami, walked out of jail on last Wednesday, after he was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court in a suicide case in 2018. In connection with the suicide of architect Anvay Naik and his mother, he and two others were arrested last week.
As they heard the petition by video conferencing, a two-judge bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee pulled up the Maharashtra government over the arrest of the TV anchor.
“If as a constitutional court, we do not lay down the rules and defend rights, then who will?,” said the Supreme Court at the hearing.
“As in proper and equitable investigations, the victim is entitled to redress“, the judges ruled.
The court stated that Arnab Goswami must cooperate with the probe and also that the release of the three must not be delayed by two days and asked them to provide Rs. 50,000 bonds.
The hearing comes two days after Mr. Goswami’s plea against his arrest was turned down by the Bombay High Court. The High Court said that the journalist could take his bail request to the lower court, which had to decide within four days.
For the Maharashtra government, the Supreme Court had some harsh words over the TV anchor’s arrest last Wednesday.
Anvay Naik, who designed the sets of Republic TV, had left a suicide note, according to the Mumbai police, citing Mr. Goswami and two others for dues that he claimed were not paid to him.
The case was closed two years ago, because of lack of proof cited by the police. It was recently reopened at the request of the family of Mr. Naik.
The police and the government of Maharashtra in court said that it was the responsibility of the state to protect the victim (Naiks).
The Supreme Court questioned whether paying money was equal to abetting suicide and asked: “If a person commits suicide in Maharashtra tomorrow and accuses the government, will the Chief Minister be arrested?”
Justice Chandrachud said government should ignore taunts on TV because our democracy, referring to Mr. Goswami’s criticism of the Maharashtra government, is “extraordinarily resilient.”
The Bench said that “but the answer is simple. If a channel doesn’t like you then don’t watch it…. You might vary in ideology, but if today’s constitutional courts don’t intervene, we are undeniably on the road to destruction”.
“If state governments target individuals, they must know that an Apex court is in place to protect citizens’ freedoms. Today, we must give a message to the high courts, too. To uphold personal liberty, please exercise your jurisdiction,” the court said.
The top court noted that in cases of personal liberty, trial courts and high courts do not grant bail. The cases then stream into the Supreme Court, which is already burdened with the workload.
Harish Salve, Mr. Goswami’s counsel, however, argued at the hearing: “Is Arnab Goswami a terrorist? Are there any charges of murder against him? Why can’t bail be granted to him? ”