Republic TV's Arnab Goswami | Twitter
Republic TV's Arnab Goswami | Twitter
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New Delhi: The Bombay High Court Tuesday stayed two FIRs filed against Arnab Goswami, the editor-in-chief of Republic TV, over alleged defamatory statements made against Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and ‘communalising‘ a gathering of migrant workers in Mumbai’s Bandra in April.

The high court bench, comprising Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Riyaz I. Chagla, observed: “We cannot have the spectacle of a Damocles’ sword hanging over the head of a journalist while conducting a public debate.”

The court also said no coercive steps will be taken against Goswami until his petition against the two FIRs is finally disposed of.

“India is now a mature democracy. Seventy years into our republic we cannot be seen to be skating on thin ice so much so that mere mention of a place of worship will lead to animosity or hatred amongst religious communities causing upheaval and conflagration on the streets. Subscribing to such a view would stifle all legitimate discussions and debates in the public domain,” the court noted.

The first FIR accuses Goswami of using derogatory language against Gandhi and making “inflammatory statements” during discussions on the Palghar lynching incident in his channel on 16 April.

The second FIR was filed by Irfan Abubakar Shaikh, secretary of the Raza Educational Welfare Society, and accuses Goswami of creating communal disturbance over the gathering of migrant workers in Bandra.

The Supreme Court had last month refused to transfer the two FIRs to the CBI from the Maharashtra Police. But the apex court had quashed the multiple FIRs, except for the first one mentioned above, that were filed against the journalist in connection with the debate on the Palghar incident.

Goswami had approached the Bombay High Court demanding that the FIRs be quashed.

He has also challenged the constitutional validity of sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, resident, language etc), 153B(1) (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting their religion) of the Indian Penal Code.


Also read: Maharashtra reopens probe against Arnab’s Republic TV in 2-year-old abetment to suicide case


No prima facie case

Referring to the debate on the Palghar incident, the high court noted that Goswami was primarily targeting Gandhi and the Congress party, not referring to any particular community.

It, therefore, said that no prima facie case was made out against him.

“In such circumstances, it cannot be said that any offence has been committed by the petitioner of provoking rioting or promoting or attempting to promote, on the grounds of religion, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious groups which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious groups or which disturbs or is likely to disturb public tranquility, thus prejudicial to national integrity,” the court observed.

For the second FIR too, the court noted that prima facie no offence has been made out against Goswami. The court said that the petitioner was only “trying to find out as to who were the people or which were the forces trying to derail or defeat the lockdown and encouraging violation of social distancing norms”.

Goswami had earlier asserted that while he did mention about the crowd gathering outside the Jama Masjid in Bandra, he would have done the same if people stood outside the Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai city.


Also read: Pro-Hindutva groups see ‘larger conspiracy’ in Palghar killings, want CBI probe


 

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40 Comments Share Your Views

40 COMMENTS

  1. When judgements given as per critics of govt. Judiciary biased n spineless. Whn in favor ….thank God we have an independent judiciary…Judges not appointed to please.

  2. No more real journalism in india most tv channels except few are just porpagating as mouthpiece of their ruling party. Fourth pillars support and destroy our democracy along with political leaders. These days all ruling ministers enjoy and comfort by journalists no one to criticize them. Government got nothing left to offer common man’s betterment.

  3. When we have proven criminals sitting in parliament, FIR getting dismissed is nothing new News in this country.

  4. BJP abb Congress ki chal chal rahi hey
    Congress walone wo Jang hari,
    Aisa kiya?waisa kiya?
    Bhai sab aap apni to batao??
    I do not agree with( democratically)
    With prime minister of of INDIA
    To give 80 hajaar ppl of India basic food
    I am sure we can do better than this
    With 80 hajar career
    If I was prim minister of India
    Is whud do things differently
    I whud put 1000 rd every 7 days
    To help poor of india
    And that would be real gift to Indians
    4000 rs evry month
    That way we can build up economy that we need
    Where will the ppl of india going spend ??
    In india .so money will be bak in system
    And we can re start our economy
    The way indian needs !!!!!!!
    So sorry mr prim minister you disappointed me
    Hop the nation understand !!!!!!!!!!!

  5. It is hard to believe Arnob was educated in Oxford. At some stage, he flipped and became an opportunist and shameless Hindu communalist.

  6. Institutions are losing their ethical values and need to be cautious otherwise will damage everything what we not expecting. Everyone busy in earning and planning their future on the stake of public.

  7. Hindu communalists have been infiltrated in all bodies, they shield each other. Goswami is the one who accused Sonia and Vatican of the murder of Hindu holymen in Palghar when it was done by Hindu mobs/

  8. Ridiculous!! Judiciary on a toss and nincompoops prevail!! You call them journalists who are a big shame in the name of journalism??!! All sold out – we common people are in great danger the way justice prevails in this country!! Nonsense!!

  9. I just can’t understand the rationale behind this Order. Individuals have gone through hell for lesser decent expressions. Here we have a rabble rouser, a toxic, arrogant, indecent whatever label one might give but a journalist being treated with kid gloves. Unimaginable!
    What hope does this decision gives to just expressions in a democracy is a big question.
    Impossible is possible for rogues under the present political dispensation. And we are fed with the message, China and Pakistan out to destroy our Nation.

  10. I just can’t understand the rationale behind this Order. Individuals have gone through hell for lesser decent expressions. Here we have a rabble rouser, a toxic, arrogant, indecent whatever label one might give but a journalist being treated with kid gloves. Unimaginable!
    What hope does this decision gives to just expressions in a democracy is a big question.
    Impossible is possible for rogues under the present political dispensation. And we are fed with the message, China and Pakistan out to destroy our Nation.

  11. This does not mean Arnab can abuse the system which Arnab did ! SC wake up !! Don’t come under pressure and exercise your independence.

  12. Do we have to still take courts seriously? Looking at the way things are even supreme court judges seem to busy planning retirement, than caring about natural justice..

  13. Another paid puppet decision as the channel is owned and sponsored by a bjp top gun,,, how could the court ever give the journalist a punishment,,, no wsy,,, shame on our judiciary dystem

    • Knew it
      will It apply same on other journalists
      Mean you can say anything in name of freedom of speech and you will be free

    • Its astonishing to know people have become so intolerant .
      A well versed judgement by element judges ,who knows that laws are based on constitution n morals have given a judgement n an explanation.
      Its unfortunate of the new trend to not let any free speech even to an extend blaming judges personally when verdict is not in favour of individual.
      This is exactly how we should not be into 2 gen almost to democracy.
      Its pure fascism that democracy fights against,which makes people fell to manhunt judges,newspaper n anchors if they dont meet ur views.

  14. Hope this wonderful legal reasoning of the learned judges applies also to Vinod Dua, Supriya Sharma and the dozens of journalists around the country being harassed as part of the Super Emergency imposed on India by the government of Sanjay Gandhi, er..I mean Narendra Modi.

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