MUMBAI, Nov 9: The Bombay High Court on Monday rejected the interim bail plea of Republic TV Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and his two alleged accomplices in an abetment to suicide case registered against him in May 2018, even as the Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari showed his “concern” for the health and security of the arrested journalist.
Just before the High Court order, Goswami and his two co-accused Feroz Shaikh and Nitish Sarda had filed regular bail applications at the Alibaug sessions court.
Giving its verdict on the interim bail plea filed by Goswami, The division bench of Justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik said “no case was made out based on facts of case as per section 439 of Criminal Procedure Code under extraordinary jurisdiction” and said observations are in ‘prima facie nature.’
The bench which had reserved its judgement on the plea on Saturday, also rejected the interim bail pleas of Shaikh and Sarda.
The court, however, clarified that its earlier directions of granting liberty to accused to file for bail under Section 439 of the CrPC before the sessions Court remain ‘unaffected’ and if filed, it be heard and disposed of within four days.
The court also said the accused have remedy in law to apply for regular bail before the Sessions Court, which should be decided on ‘merits of the case’. Rejection of interim application ‘should not be construed as impediment’ for the same, it said.
The bench passed order on Goswami’s interim bail application under section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which provides special powers to the high court or sessions court for grant of bail.
A statement issued by the Raj-Bhavan said governor Koshiyari spoke to the home minister Anil Deshmukh conveying him his concern for Goswami’s health and security and advised the Maharashtra government to allow him to meet his family members.
The governor expressed his concern after Goswami was shifted to the Taloja jail before he completed his quarantine period in the Alibaug jail quarantine section developed in a local school where the arrested editor spent the first two nights under detention. The police said the decision to shift him to Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai was taken after Goswami was found using someone’s mobile phone to talk to the outside world through social media since his mobile was seized at the time of his arrest from his Mumbai residence on November 4.
Arnab Goswami, who was arrested in connection with a 2018 abetment to suicide case, said he was being subjected to torture and was not being allowed to talk to his lawyers. He was speaking to Republic TV reporters from a van that shifted him from a prison quarantine centre to Taloja jail on Sunday.
“I had requested them please let me talk (to my lawyers). But they denied. I am telling everyone my life is at stake. My police custody was rejected. They tried to shift me at night only. Today morning they have dragged me. Everybody is seeing what is happening to me. They want to delay the process and keep me in jail. Please give me bail, I am appealing to the Supreme Court,” Arnab Goswami was seen saying with folded hands in a video.
Goswami along with Feroz Shaikh and Nitish Sarda were arrested in connection with the suicide of architect-interior designer Anvay Naik and his Kumud Naik mother in May, 2018 over alleged non-payment of dues for developing the Republic TV studio by companies of the accused. After his arrest from his Lower Parel residence in Mumbai, Goswami was taken to Alibaug, where the Chief Judicial Magistrate remanded him and the two others in judicial custody till November 18.
The writ plea filed by Goswami said the arrest was conducted in “blatant violation of the fundamental rights to life and personal liberty” of Goswami and his dignity guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
In his bail application, Goswami made allegations of manhandling by the police and claimed, “During the course of his arrest and while being transferred to Alibaug in a police van and in the custody of the police, the petitioner suffered a 6-inch-deep gash on his left hand, a serious injury to his spinal cord, was hit by a heavy uniform police officer’s boot, was not allowed to wear shoes throughout, suffered vein injuries and was not even given access to drinking water.”