The Supreme Court today refused to transfer the investigation into the FIRs filed against journalist Arnab Goswami to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and has also refused to quash the FIRs filed against Goswami in connection with statements he recently made during news broadcasts.
Justice DY Chandrachud further confirmed the Court’s earlier interim order transferring the investigation into the FIRs from Nagpur to Mumbai. The protection against coercive steps earlier granted by the Court has been extended for three weeks, during which time Goswami may pursue appropriate remedies.
Subsequent FIRs and complaints lodged against the journalist are quashed, and no other FIR or complaint shall be entertained or pursued on the basis of Goswami’s April 21 news broadcast on the Palghar lynching incident.
Pronouncing the verdict through video conferencing, the apex court observed that the right of journalist under Article 19 (1) (a) is at a higher level and that India’s freedom of press stays as long as journalists can speak truth to power, but this freedom is not absolute.
The news anchor had moved the Court seeking quashing of the FIRs registered against him. He also prayed that the investigation being carried out against him by the Maharashtra Police be transferred to an independent agency.
In a subsequent petition filed by Goswami, he sought to quash an FIR registered in Mumbai against him over his broadcast on the Bandra incident. Goswami claimed that the police was acting with “malafide and with ill-will”.
Solicitor General for India Tushar Mehta had also urged for a transfer of the probe. He said that in light of the unusual circumstances where both the accused and the investigating agency are accusing each other, the best solution would be to transfer the probe to another independent agency.