The Bombay High Court has denied interim bail to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswamy who was previously arrested and remanded to 14 days judicial custody in connection with an abetment to suicide case.
LiveLaw reported that the Court rejected the bail application because no case was made out for the exercise of extraordinary jurisdiction by the High Court under Article 226 under which Goswamy had approached the court seeking writ of habeas corpus against arrest and remand in the case. Moreover, an alternate remedy of seeking regular bail under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code is available to the accused.
A Division Bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik heard the case over two special sittings, one on Saturday and another on Monday, as the Court is closed for Diwali vacations. The court said, “Rejection of interim application shall not be construed as an impediment to the petitioner seeking alternate remedies.”
Before moving HC, Goswamy had filed an application seeking regular bail before the Alibag Sessions Court.
In other developments. Goswamy was shifted from a local school that has been designated a Covid-19 center for Alibag jail to the Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai. The move came after Goswamy was allegedly found to be using a mobile phone while in judicial custody.
Interestingly, Taloja Jail is also where 80-year-old poet Varavara Rao and 83-year-old Fr. Stan Swamy, both accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, are lodged. Fr. Stan’s lawyers had recently moved court seeking permission to use a sipper as he is unable to drink water from a cup or glass because his hands tremble on account of Parkinson’s disease. But unlike Goswamy who got two special hearings despite court vacations, a decision in Fr. Stan’s plea for a sipper is not expected before the next hearing on November 26, nearly 20 days after his original plea, when the NIA is expected to file a response. All accused in the Elgaar Parishad/Bhima Koregaon case had been demonised by multiple media outlets including Goswamy’s Republic TV.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court at Alibag has allowed the police to interrogate Arnab Goswami for three hours every day at Taloja jail. On November 6 the court had permitted similar interrogation at Alibag, but Goswami was shifted to Taloja after he was found to be using a mobile phone.
Goswamy was named in the suicide note by interior designer Anvay M Naik and his mother Kumud M Naik, where they said that non payment of dues by Goswamy and others was the reason why they were forced to take this extreme step. The duo allegedly died by suicide on May 5, 2018.
Anvay Naik was the Managing Director of Concorde Designs Private Limited, an interior designing company and his mother was also among the Board of Directors. They claimed in their suicide note that three individuals including Arnab Goswami had not paid them dues of over Rs. 5 crore causing extreme financial distress. It was also reported that Goswami owed him Rs. 83 lakhs for designing the studio of Republic TV in Mumbai.
Republic TV had, back then, issued a statement, “Republic TV would like to clarify that it had engaged the services of one Concorde Designs Private Limited sometime in December 2016… All amounts due and payable under the contract were paid by Republic TV to Concorde Designs. The details of payment, including cheque numbers, amounts, dates of payment, related correspondence and documentation are available with Republic TV.”
Back then, in 2018, the Alibag police had filed a case of abetment to suicide, but closed the case on April 16, 2019 citing lack of evidence against the accused named in the suicide note. But in May 2020, Anvay’s daughter Adnya approached Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh alleging that the police had not conducted proper investigation into the case. Subsequently a fresh investigation by the Crime Investigation Division (CID) was ordered.
The same month a video by Akshata Naik, Anvay Naik’s wife making serious allegations against the Raigad Police (Maharashtra) and Republic TV owner Arnab Goswami, surfaced. Naik said husband and her mother-in-law had allegedly committed suicide in their farmhouse in Alibag in May 2018 and in his suicide note, “Anvay had blamed Arnab Goswami” and two others, Feroz Shaikh and Niteish Sarda, for not paying his dues. She alleged that that no substantial progress has been made in the investigation into the case.
In this video, Naik can also be seen making allegations against Suresh Varade, PI Alibag police station where he asked her to reconsider her decision of filing the FIR as it involves influential people. She says she went ahead with the FIR despite this, but the case is now at a virtual standstill with no real progress. She also alleges that she has not been given a laptop and a mobile phone back from the police which was taken for investigation. Even the suicide note was given to her after much persuasion. She apprehends serious threat to her life and says that if anything were to happen to her or her daughter, Arnab Goswami should be held responsible for it. She is also seen asking for protection for her and her daughter.
Following Naik’s widow’s complaint all papers submitted in court were looked at again and some discrepancies were reportedly found. The Inspector General of Konkan region also initiated an internal enquiry against Inspector Suresh Warade and the case was officially reopened on October 15, 2020. Over 2 lakh files found on Anvay Naik’s laptop were sent for analysis and police claim to have fond new evidence that they said necessitated custody of the accused.
Goswamy was arrested from his Mumbai Home amidst high drama on November 4 and a district court in Raigarh remanded him to judicial custody till November 18.
Meanwhile another complaint was filed against Arnab Goswami and 4 others by a woman constable SG Tanvade, of the Mumbai Police. Constable Tanvade alleged that Goswami, his wife Samyabrata Goswami, their son, and two unknown persons obstructed police officers from carrying out their duties. She also accused them of assaulting female police officers on duty.
This FIR is registered under Indian Penal Code Sections 353 (deterring public servant from discharging duty), 504 and 506 (provoking breach of peace) and also under provisions of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. Constable Tanvade in her statement, submitted that she and other officers of the Mumbai Police accompanied the unit from the Raigad police for arresting Arnab Goswami in the 2018 Anvay Naik abetment of suicide case that was recently re-opened. Tanvade alleged that while Arnab was being arrested, he and his son assaulted the police officers, adding that the constable submitted that that Goswami obstructed the officers from carrying out their duty by threatening to take action against them. Bar and Bench quoted Tanvade’s statement that cited Goswami’s words: “I am a journalist, I will ensure action is taken against the police.”