New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday refused to transfer from the Maharashtra Police to the CBI the investigation against Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami on FIRs filed against him for hate speech, criminal defamation and promoting enmity between religious groups.
The bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah, however, quashed the multiple FIRs filed against Goswami in several states, which accused him of using derogatory language against Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and making “inflammatory statements” during discussions on his channel over the Palghar incident, in which two sadhus and their driver were lynched.
The court also ordered that no new FIR will be entertained on the same broadcast, which allegedly defamed Gandhi, and granted Goswami the liberty to approach the appropriate court for quashing the remaining FIRs against him.
The primary FIR in the case, filed in Nagpur, which was so far being investigated by the Mumbai Police, however, stands and will continue as is.
The court also extended Goswami’s protection from arrest for another three weeks, with orders to the Mumbai Police to grant him security.
Also read: Now, Arnab Goswami accuses Mumbai Police of ‘malice’ over Republic TV report, moves SC
Court says multiple FIRs too similar to each other
The court had noted that the complaints against Goswami were almost identical, with the language, content and sequencing very similar to each other, and asserted that multiple FIRs and complaints cannot be made on the same cause of action.
The bench also observed that under Article 32 of the Constitution, it is the duty of the Supreme Court to protect the right to freedom of speech and expression, which encompasses the freedom of press. Multiple complaints, it said, have a stifling effect.
The court also refused to quash the FIR filed against him for allegedly trying to disturb communal harmony. This FIR was filed by Raza Educational Welfare Society secretary Irfan Abubakar Shaikh, accusing him of creating communal disturbance over the gathering of migrant workers in Mumbai’s Bandra last month.
On 11 May, this plea was heard along with another petition filed by Goswami last month, after over 100 FIRs were filed against him for defaming Gandhi.
Goswami had demanded a quashing of all the FIRs on the grounds that they violated his fundamental rights under Articles 19(1)(a) (freedom of speech and expression) and 21 (right to life and personal liberty).
On 24 April, the court had provided him protection from arrest, and stayed all FIRs against him, except for one in Nagpur.
The Nagpur FIR was then ordered to be transferred to Mumbai, and will now be investigated by the Mumbai Police, along with the FIR over the Bandra incident and an FIR filed by Goswami alleging that he was attacked in the city by two men on a motorcycle on 23 April. Goswami alleged the men were Congress party workers.
Also read: One of the two cops who interrogated Arnab Goswami has tested Covid-19 positive, SC told
There is no question that Goswami is a crook and promoting communal disharmony by misusing TV media.
How interesting !!! How funny !!!This man has the protection of SC in regards of “Freedom of speech” ….from being arrested …security etc etc…!! What about the others who has no evidence of crime against them ….denied of their right to speech…denied of their right to liberty…????Double standard policy ? Is Arnab Goswami is so powerful…so precious item…so valuable in the eyes of SC????No answer,Sir!! Mockery of judiciary !!!!!!
The legally correct course of action would be to swiftly file a charge sheet, taking the assistance of experts who can analyse his statements in the light of relevant laws. The words speak for themselves and he has not denied saying them. Twelve hours is sufficient time to assemble the facts. Nor should there be any fishing expedition on the source of funding of Republic TV or other irrelevant matters.
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