Arnab Goswami Says his Release was “Victory of the People of India,” Threaten Uddhav Thackeray
MUMBAI, Nov 12: Released from the jail after the Supreme Court granted him interim bail, the editor-in-chief of Republic TV Arnab Goswami was back in his studio and back to his usual self, calling names and throwing challenges to all and sundry.
Though several journalists’ organisations across the country including the highly respected editors’ guild deemed his arrest for a 30-month old case for alleged abetment to suicide as an “attack on the freedom of expression,” the police action against Goswami has assumed political overtones as a fight between the BJP and non-BJP parties, particularly Shiv Sena.
As he was being released from the Taloja jail around 8.30 P.M. on Wednesday after completing the necessary formalities, a large crowd that had gathered outside was heard shouting slogans in the usual BJP-style, ‘Bharat Mata ki jai, Vande Mataram and Arnab Goswami zindabad,’ along with ‘Satyamev Jayate’ and ‘Happy Diwali’ which were found were written on the road in front of the jail.
Emerging from the jail, Goswami flashed victory sign in the style of political leaders and in a brief address said his release was a “victory of the people of India.” He drove straight to the Republic TV studio where he was greeted with “Welcome Arnab” placards.
Back in the familiar environs of the TV newsroom after a week in judicial custody, Goswami immediately hit out at Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for arresting him in a ‘fake’ case.
‘Uddhav Thackeray, listen to me. You lost. You have been defeated,’ said Goswami (47), while being surrounded by visibly relieved colleagues from his Republic TV channel.
Goswami also singled out Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh for his ‘illegal’ arrest on November 4 in a 2018 suicide abetment case. He claimed that while in Taloja jail since November 8, he was subjected to three rounds of police interrogation.
‘Uddhav Thackeray, you arrested me in an old, fake case and did not even apologise to me,’ said Goswami. ‘The game has just begun,’ he said and announced that he will launch Republic TV channel in every language and also have a presence in international media. He made the announcement in a style of threat to Thackeray and his party that he would “expose” his detractors on the international platform.
Saying that he apprehended of being arrested again, Goswami said, ‘I will launch (the channels) even from inside the jail and you (Thackeray) won’t be able to do anything.’ Thanking the Supreme Court for granting him interim bail, Goswami spoke a few words in Marathi, rounding off with the ‘Jai Maharashtra’ slogan.
But even as a section of the Supreme Court Bar Association disfavoured granting top priority to Goswami’s interim bail plea and listing it before a division bench the same day, several anti-BJP members of the intelligentsia also criticized the apex court for giving special status to the case though the arrest had nothing to do with the freedom of the fourth estate and was based on alleged cheating, a criminal offence.
A noted comedian Kunal Kamra is finding himself threatened with alleged contempt of Supreme Court by making a series of tweets criticizing the apex court for granting interim bail to Goswami. And the person who threatened to drag Kamra to court was Rizwan Siddiquee, the advocate of Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut who has identified herself with the BJP after her row with the Sena government over demolition of her alleged illegal construction of her office in Mumbai. Siddiquee on Wednesday sought Attorney General KK Venugopal’s permission for initiating criminal contempt proceedings against Kunal Kamra over defamatory tweets against the Supreme Court concerning Goswami’s interim bail.
In his complaint, Siddiquee has stated that Kamra, through his words, had grossly undermined the authority of the Supreme Court through his Twitter account which has 1.7 million followers.
He further added that if action was not taken against Kamra, it might empower other influencers with millions of followers to pass “reckless allegations and diabolical statements against the judges and the court who do not decide cases in their favour or in accordance to their liking and this trend would soon spell the death knell of an independent judiciary.”
Kamra, in a series of tweets, had criticised the apex court’s order of granting Arnab interim bail in abetment to suicide case, including alluding that the Supreme Court was behaving like “Supreme Joke of the this country” and advising “all lawyers with a spine” to stop using the prefix “honourable” before the SC judges because “honour has left the building long back.”
“You cannot scandalize or lower the authority of any Court. It amounts to Criminal Contempt. Remove your post immediately or i shall be constrained to proceed further as an officer of the Court,” Siddiquee had tweeted earlier.
A week after he was sent to jail, Goswami, an accused in a 2018 abetment to suicide case, was released on Wednesday night, hours after the Supreme Court granted interim bail observing it will be a ‘travesty of justice’ if personal liberty is curtailed.
The court also said that if the Constitutional Courts do not interfere in this case today then ‘we are travelling the path of destruction undeniably.” Goswami, the 47-year-old Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV who was lodged in Taloja jail in Alibaug in Raigad district adjoining Mumbai along with two others after they were sent to 14-day judicial custody on November 4 by a sessions court, got the relief from a vacation bench of the top court after a day-long hearing marked by some gripping exchanges.