Refusing Republic TV’s editor Arnab Goswami’s plea for immediate release, a division bench of the Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday posted for hearing on Friday afternoon his petition challenging his arrest by Alibag police in a 2018 abetment to suicide case.
The Alibag police arrested Goswami on Wednesday morning and the chief judicial magistrate remanded him in judicial custody till November 18. Goswami had filed for a bail before the Alibag magistrate, but withdrew his plea on Thursday and moved the high court seeking immediate release, contending his arrest and detention were completely illegal.
His counsel, senior advocate Aabad Ponda, submitted the police closed the case in 2018 by filing an A-summary report (true, but undetected) and it was not open to the police to reopen the case and start re-investigation without a court order. “It [magisterial order accepting the summary report and closing the case] was a nail in the coffin,” Ponda said, insisting that the case could not have been resurrected without a court order issued by the magistrate concerned or some higher court.
The senior advocate also pointed out the Supreme Court rulings in support of his contention and submitted that the arrest of Goswami in “the dead case” was completely illegal. Ponda urged the court to release Goswami immediately, as according to him, detention of the journalist was not legally permissible at all.
He said the HC had enough plenary powers and must come to the rescue of a citizen treated unfairly by the state. “This is a classic illustration of misuse of power by police and such arrest and detention cannot be tolerated even for a second,” he said, while urging the court to release Goswami on interim bail.
The bench of justice SS Shinde and justice MS Karnik refused to issue an order for immediate release, stating it “can’t pass an order without hearing the complainant and state”. The bench held this after senior advocate Amit Desai, representing the state government, requested for time to peruse the case papers. The bench, however, expressed inability to pass any interim order without granting opportunity of hearing to the Maharashtra government, and the complainant, and posted the petition for further hearing on Friday on Desai’s request.
The bench also issued notices to the state and also to the complainant Adnya Naik, daughter of Anvay Naik who died by suicide in 2018.
The bench felt it necessary to add the complainant as a party respondent to the petition, especially because she was not heard when the A-summary report was accepted and the case was closed by the judicial magistrate concerned. The bench said it did not want to make the same mistake in this proceeding and directed Goswami to add her a party to the petition, so that she can put forth her side on Friday. The bench also posted for hearing a plea filed by Adnya Naik for the case to be reinvestigated.
Anvay Naik, 53, died by suicide in his Alibag farmhouse in Raigad, police said. His mother, Kumud, too, was found dead at their home.
In his suicide note, police said, Naik alleged he was being forced to take this step as he was not paid dues collectively amounting to ₹5.40 crore by Goswami and two others. Naik was the managing director of Concorde Designs Private Limited, which rendered services for Republic TV.
Along with Republic, Naik had dues from two other companies namely Smartworks and IcastX/Skimedia. After Naik’s suicide, his wife Akshata had lodged a complaint with the Alibag police against Goswami, Feroz Shaikh of IcastX/Skimedia and Nitish Sarda of Smartworks for allegedly abetting their suicide.
Naik had alleged that Goswami owes him ₹83 lakh, Sarda ₹55 lakh and Shaikh ₹4 crore.