The Supreme Court has ordered the release of Arnab Goswami in a 2018 abetment to suicide case on a bail bond of Rs 50,000. Observing the high court was in error in rejecting the interim bail application, the top court said HCs were not doing enough in matters where personal liberty is denied.
The statements were made by a vacation bench of Justices Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee while hearing Arnab’s plea challenging the Bombay High Court order.
The Republic TV editor-in-chief and two others — Feroze Shaikh and Nitish Sarda — were arrested on November 4 on charges of abetment to suicide of interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud. They have since been in judicial custody.
While hearing the case today, Justice DY Chandrachud said: “SC is unhappy that HCs, which are constitutional courts, are not doing enough in matters where personal liberty is denied.… If this court were not to interfere today, we are travelling on a path of destruction of personal liberty undeniably.…”
He added: “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 government’s target individuals in this manner, let’s send out a message that SC is there.”
The justice also asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal who was appearing for the Maharashtra government if in this case there was any active encouragement or instigation to constitute an offence of abetment to suicide.
He added: “Otherwise look at the drastic consequences. We are dealing with personal liberty.”
The court noted the country’s democracy was extraordinarily resilient and that the Uddhav Thackeray government must ignore Arnab’s taunts on television.
Appearing for the senior journalist, Harish Salve said since the allegations against Arnab of withholding money could be ascertained by documents, what was the need for custodial interrogation? He added: “It’s just a smokescreen to teach the man a lesson.”
Questioning if a person commits suicide in Maharashtra and blames the government would the chief minister be arrested, Salve said the case against Arnab did not stand the basic ingredients test to establish an abetment to suicide offence under Section 306 of IPC.
According to Live Law, he argued that overlay of malice and fact, abuse and conduct of state power is not something that happens on a daily basis. He also alleged that the power to re-investigate is being wrongly used by the Maharashtra government.