The Bombay high Court on Saturday reserved its order on the interim bail plea of Republic TV’s editor Arnab Goswami who was arrested by Alibag police in connection with a 2018 abetment to suicide case.
The division bench of justice SS Shinde and justice MS Karnik said it would try to pronounce the order as early as possible. Goswami has been in judicial custody since Wednesday.
The bench also allowed Goswami and two others arrested in the case, Firoz Sheikh and Nitish Sarda , to approach the sessions Court at Alibag for regular bail and asked that the court deal with this within four days.
All three are in judicial custody till November 18.
On Wednesday, the Republic TV editor moved high court questioning his arrest and sought immediate relief. His legal team argued that his arrest and detention were illegal, as the case, closed in April 2019 by filing an A- summary report, was being re-investigated without a necessary court order. They also argued that the police officer could not have reopened the case without first obtaining necessary order from the judicial magistrate concerned. Sheikh and Sarda followed suit and challenged their arrests in HC.
The Maharashtra government on Saturday responded to the pleas, submitting that unlike B and C summary reports, A-summary reports aren’t closure reports, and that, therefore, no permission from the magistrate is required for further probe. Senior advocate Amit Desai, who represented the government, said A-summary indicates that the allegations made in the complaint are true, but no one can be prosecuted for want of adequate evidence. B summary means the allegations are found to be false, whereas C summary indicates that no offence is disclosed.
Thus, Desai claimed, an A-summary report reflects an incomplete investigation and cannot be construed a closure report.
He also pointed out that there was efficacious alternative remedy available to the accused, filing a regular bail application; filing habeas corpus petition was no substitute for bail application, and can’t be granted by way of interim relief when the petition itself was not maintainable, he added.
The bench found merit in the submission. Judges said granting bail as interim relief in a writ petition will set a wrong precedent. “The current danger is that this court will be flooded with petitions seeking bail as interim relief,” said the bench.
Goswami’s counsel, senior advocates Harish Salve and Aabad Ponda, insisted that the HC can grant bail in a writ petition and urged the bench to forthwith release Goswami on bail.
The court on Saturday also issued notices to the state government and the accused in the case on a petition filed by Aadnya Naik, daughter of the deceased architect and interior designer Anvay Naik, challenging the April 2019 magisterial order closing the case.
Anvay Naik, 53, died by suicide at his residence on May 5, 2018. His mother, Kumud, too, was found dead at their home. His wife Akshata lodged a complaint with police alleging that the two were forced to take the step as they were under mental stress because of non-payment of dues collectively amounting to ₹5.40 crore by Goswami and the two others, something that was also mentioned in a suicide note.
After his arrest on November 4, Goswami’s news channel accused that he was “physically assaulted by the police” and forcefully taken away. Police, however, said nobody assaulted him. Later, the magistrate court rejected Goswami’s allegations after the police submitted his medical report.
Also on Saturday, a sessions court in Alibag adjourned the hearing into the revision application filed by the local crime branch of Alibag police seeking custodial interrogation of Goswami and two others.