Bombay HC refuses interim relief to Arnab Goswami, to hear plea tomorrow

Goswami, who was sent to 14 days judicial custody by an Alibaug court, has also challenged his ‘illegal arrest’ by Maharashtra Police on Wednesday in connection with the case.

The Bombay High Court has Arnab Goswami’s petition challenging his arrest in 2018 abetment to suicide case for hearing to Friday at 3 PM. The division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice M S Karnik, which was hearing the case today, said it will consider the prayer for interim order for release of Goswami.

Goswami wants the charges quashed and questioned his ‘illegal arrest’ by Maharashtra Police on Wednesday in connection with the case.

Terming the investigation into the abetment to suicide case “completely illegal”, senior advocate Abad Ponda representing Goswami, pressed for interim relief for his client in the Bombay High Court. He said the commencement of new investigation after re-opening the case was contrary to well-settled principles of criminal law.

A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice M S Karnik said, “We will have to issue notice to the State, to the complainant and we will hear the case on some other date after vacations. But there are other remedies. You can challenge the remand order.”

Goswami, who was sent to 14 days judicial custody by an Alibaug court, wants the charges quashed and questioned his ‘illegal arrest’ by Maharashtra Police on Wednesday in connection with the case.

The case pertains to the death of interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik at their bungalow in Alibaug in May 2018. As per police officials, the duo died by suicide over alleged non-payment of dues by Goswami’s television channel.

The writ plea, filed through senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani, advocates Ravi Sharma and Gunjan Mangla, and instructed by law firm phoenix legal, said the arrest was conducted in “blatant violation of the fundamental rights to life and personal liberty” of Goswami and his dignity guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

It added that the petitioner was “forced out” of his residence by around 20 officials of the Mumbai Police and was allegedly dragged into the vehicle, and assaulting Goswami’s son in the process.

“It is shocking that a case that was decisively closed has been reopened with the sole purpose of misusing power, concocting facts and forcefully arresting the petitioner ( Goswami) in a prima facie act of revenge and vengeance for his news coverage which questioned those in power in the State of Maharashtra,” the plea said.

It added: “The petitioner has been assaulted by the police and has been wrongly and illegally arrested in a motivated, false and closed case. This is another attempt of the political witch-hunt and vendetta politics against the petitioner and his channel.”

While challenging the FIR and objecting to reopening of the case, the plea said: “It now transpires that due to vendetta and personal animosity of the political dispensation in Maharashtra, respondent Mumbai Police commissioner Param Bir Singh and based on a video released by Akshata Naik, wife of the deceased, the case has been reopened which was earlier closed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Raigad on the basis of the closure report filed by the Alibaug Police.”

The plea also claimed that Goswami’s company, ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd, has paid over 90% of the amounts due to Anvay Naik’s company, Concorde Designs Pvt. Ltd. (CDPL) as per the terms of the contract.

The journalist said that he was not directly in contact with the late architect regarding any form of work concerned.

“As is the general practice in large organisations such as the one the Petitioner is associated with, day-to-day transactions such as payments to vendors etc. are handled by the finance department. It is unreasonable to expect that the petitioner, being at the position that he is, would be involved in these transactions,” the petition said.

Goswami alleged that due to the publicization and politicisation of issues and “pressure being mounted on police authorities,” he was “wrongly” and “illegally” arrested under the 2018 FIR.

“Apart from the fact that not even a prima facie case has been made out against the Petitioner, the nature of the Petitioner’s work is such that even one day’s absence will have a major impact on the Petitioner, his news channel and its employees, and the public at large,” it said.

In view of this, Goswami has sought that he be “immediately released” besides a stay on all further proceedings, including investigation into the FIR. The plea also urged that no coercive action be taken against him in respect of the FIR.

Stating that the petitioner was “illegally arrested” and “wrongfully detained” by the police despite the closure report, Goswami sought quashing of the FIR and setting aside of any order arising out of it.


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