Bombay HC suspends FIRs against Arnab; says ‘prima facie no case’

MUMBAI, JUN 30 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 6/30/2020 1:27:32 PM IST

In an interim relief to Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday suspended First Information Reports (FIRs) against him for allegedly making provocative and inflammatory statements in relation with Palghar lynching and Bandra (West) migrants gathering incidents. The court said that no coercive steps be taken against him until further orders and ‘prima facie there is no case made out’ and no offences disclosed against Goswami.

The court observed that there was nothing to show that Goswami tried to cause public disharmony. The court admitted the petition and said that interim protection from coercive steps will be continued until further orders. A division bench of Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Riyaz Chagla heard through videoconferencing a criminal writ plea filed by Goswami seeking various reliefs, including quashing of two FIRs filed against him on April 22 and May 2.

Goswami has been booked in connection with a TV show on April 29, regarding his comments on migrants gathering outside Bandra railway station on April 14. Apart from this, multiple FIRs have been filed against him over a TV show on April 21, in which he questioned Congress president Sonia Gandhi over the lynching of two sadhus and their driver in Palghar.

The HC on June 12 had extended protection from coercive action to Goswami until further orders and reserved its order on a criminal writ plea filed by Goswami. On June 9, HC had directed Goswami to appear before NM Joshi Marg police station on June 10 for questioning. The court had also said no coercive action would be taken against Goswami though he would appear before police as directed.

The Supreme Court, on May 19, had rejected a petition by Goswami seeking quashing of the FIRs and transfer of the case to CBI and extended his protection from arrest for three more weeks. On June 12, Senior Counsels Harish Salve and Milind Sathe, appearing for Goswami, read out each section under which Goswami was booked and opposed the allegation that Goswami’s comments on Palghar and Bandra station incidents in his TV programme were politically motivated.

Salve said Goswami’s remarks on the show did not have any malafide intention but could be attributed to journalistic enthusiasm. Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Raja Thakare refuted claims made by Salve and said the statements made by Goswami on his show had hurt sentiments of people and investigation in the same is required.The HC will hear the case in due course.


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