The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered release of Republic TV’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and other co-accused on interim bail on a bond of Rs 50,000 each in an abetment to suicide case. Saying that the High Court erred in rejecting the application for grant of interim bail to Goswami, the top court said HCs were not doing enough in matters where personal liberty is denied.
“SC is unhappy that HCs, which are constitutional courts, are not doing enough in matters where personal liberty is denied…,” Justice D Y Chandrachud said. “If this court were not to interfere today, we are travelling on a path of destruction of personal liberty undeniably…Is this is what our state governments will do to those who have to be nailed…? Don’t watch the channel of you don’t like… Left to myself I will not watch… If state govt’s target individuals in this manner, let’s send out a message that SC is there,” he added.
A vacation bench of Justices Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee made the observations while hearing Goswami’s plea challenging the Bombay HC order. Goswami and two others — Feroze Shaikh and Nitish Sarda — were arrested on November 4 and have been in judicial custody.
Justice Chandrachud asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Maharashtra, if there was any active encouragement or instigation in the case to constitute an offence of abetment to suicide. “Otherwise look at the drastic consequences. We are dealing with personal liberty,” said Justice Chandrachud. He added that India’s democracy is extraordinarily resilient and Maharashtra government must ignore all this (Arnab’s taunts on TV).
Appearing before the court for Goswami, advocate Harish Salve said that Maharashtra Police seeking custodial interrogation of Goswami was nothing but a smokescreen to teach him a lesson.
“Allegation (against Goswami) is about withholding money which can be ascertained from documents. What’s the need for custodial interrogation? It’s just a smokescreen to teach the man a lesson,” Salve said.