The Supreme Court today granted bail to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, who is currently in judicial custody for his alleged involvement in a 2018 abetment to suicide case.
The Vacation Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee passed the order in an appeal preferred by Goswami against the Bombay High Court order which denied him interim bail in the 2018 case.
The Bench held that the Bombay High Court was incorrect in denying Goswami interim bail on November 7. It thus directed for Arnab Goswami and the two other co-accused to be released immediately on a bond of Rs 50,000. The Commissioner of Police has been directed to ensure the order is followed immediately.
During the course of the hearing, Justice Chandrachud observed,
“If we don’t interfere in this case today, we will walk on a path of destruction. If left to me, I won’t watch the channel and you may differ in ideology, but constitutional courts will have to protect such freedoms…”
Defending the High Court order, Desai said that it was conscious of the fact that the plea for regular bail was filed before the Sessions Court. That matter is scheduled to be heard tomorrow. He went on to contend,
“High Court had exercised restraint as a remedy under Section 439 CrPC was open to him…In this case, a lot of material has been collected. The complaint was received in May and the probe began in October.”
Desai went on to submit,
“Sessions Court is hearing the matter…why would the High Court change the hierarchy of the system for a gentleman accused under Section 306?”- Senior Advocate Amit Desai
He further argued that it is the duty of the State to respect the victim (Naik’s wife Akshata), who has been continually knocking on the doors of justice. He brought to the Court’s attention the fact that she only learned about the closure of the case from a tweet.
Desai also highlighted the fact that the High Court had directed for the bail application before the Sessions Court to be decided in four days.
“Investigation is going on and liberty is not taken away…Here, his bail plea is being heard in four days, whereas others are languishing for years.”
Senior Adv Dushyant Dave questions urgent hearing of Arnab Goswami’s plea
On Tuesday, Senior Advocate and President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Dushyant Dave has written a strongly worded letter to the Secretary-General of the Supreme Court questioning the manner in which Republic TV Editor, Arnab Goswami’s bail plea was listed the very next day after it was filed.
Dave has lodged a “strong protest” with the Secretary-General pointing out that Goswami’s petitions before the top court are listed urgently while other similarly placed litigants are kept waiting.
Terming the subject of his letter as the “extraordinary urgent listing of the Special Leave Petition filed on behalf of Arnab Goswami,” Dave has questioned whether there was a special direction from the Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde himself to list petitions by the journalist urgently.
“While thousands of citizens remain in jails, languishing for long periods while their matters before the Supreme Court are not getting listed for weeks and months, it is, to say the least, deeply disturbing, how and why every time Mr. Goswami approaches the Supreme Court, his matter gets listed instantly.
Is there any special Order or Direction from Honble the Chief Justice of India and the Master of the Roaster in this regard ?”- Dave has asked.
Goswami had approached the Supreme Court this morning against a November 9 order of Bombay High Court denying him interim bail in the 2018 suicide abetment case of interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik. The petition is listed for hearing tomorrow at 10.30 AM before a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee
Dave has gone on to question the Registrar too asking if he was giving preferential treatment to Goswami without the CJI’s knowledge.
“It is quite well known that such extraordinarily urgent listings of matters cannot and does not take place without specific orders from Honble the Chief Justice . Or is it that as the Administrative Head you or the Registrar listing is giving special preference to Shri Goswami?” says Dave in his letter.
Comparing Goswami’s case with that of P Chidambaram, who had also approached Court for bail in the INX media case, Dave states that “even someone like P Chidambaram, a respected Senior Advocate, could not get the similar speedy listing and had to spend long months in jail till finally, the Hon’ble Supreme Court declared that he deserved to be bailed out.’
Dave adds that the serious issue involved here was the “selective listing of matters that the Registry of the top court was indulging in the last eight months during COVID pandemic.”
Dave maintains that thousands of citizens remain in jails, languishing for long periods while their matters filed before the Supreme Court “are not getting listed for weeks and months.”
Dave goes on to substantiate his concern, stating that in his capacity as the president of the SCBA, he has received several requests from various Advocates-on-Record claiming that “matters filed by them are not getting listed for weeks and months though very urgent and involves serious issues requiring SC’s urgent intervention including bail matters.”
“Why is this selective listing taking place when the system is supposedly computerised and is to work automatically? Why is It that despite the same, matters are getting circulated and that too before only a few Hon’ble Benches? Why is there no foolproof system to be just and fair to all Citizens and all AORs?”- Dave’s letter reads.