The Bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik of Bombay High Court today rejected the bail plea moved by Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV Arnab Goswami, who is in judicial custody in relation to a case concerning the suicide of interior designer Anvay Naik in 2018.
The Court gave Arnab Goswami liberty to approach the Sessions Court for regular bail, noting that the application for the same would have to be decided within four days. Goswami has already moved the Sessions Court at Alibaug for regular bail.
The Court went on to note in its order,
“No prima facie case has been made out by petitioner for invoking extra-ordinary jurisdiction…We had observed that he has remedy before the Sessions Court, the same can be availed and any observations made in our order is only for the limited purpose of this application.”
The Court had reserved orders in these pleas on Saturday after a marathon hearing. The Court had opined that any orders it may pass should not be construed as an impediment for Goswami to approach the Sessions Court, Alibaug for bail under Section 439 of CrPC.
Averments and Court’s Observations
Arnab Goswami had sought for his immediate release from detention through a bail plea that also made serious allegations of manhandling by the Maharashtra Police.
Arnab Goswami had also challenged the legality of his arrest on November 4 and sought to quash the charges against him in relation to the 2018 case. Goswami has asserted that the Maharashtra Police and the government were acting out of a vendetta against him.
Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Goswami, had argued before the Court that even if an investigation is required to be continued in the 2018 FIR, which was earlier closed in 2019, Arnab Goswami need not be kept in custody.
Arnab Goswami added that the powers of the High Court under Article 226 were wider than the power of the Supreme Court under Article 32 when it comes to the grant of bail.
Senior Advocate Aabad Ponda added that the bail application was before High Court only because they apprehended that the hearing in the lower court may be delayed by the Maharashtra Police till the end of the term of judicial custody.
Senior Advocate Amit Desai, appearing for the State, opposed the bail application stating that Goswami had not exhausted his remedy in the lower court yet. He added that if he was granted bail at this stage, there will be a flood of bail applications before the High Court.
The Court also granted opportunity to the informant, Akshata Naik, who is the wife of Anvay Naik, to make her submissions in the matter.
Senior Advocate Shirish Gupte, appearing on her behalf, submitted that Naik’s family may be put to risk of harm if Goswami is released on bail.
Before reserving orders, the Court opined that it was important to consider that Goswami had approaching the Court despite having other remedies being available. The Court added that time would be required to mull over and consider the voluminous compilation of judgments submitted to them before coming to a decision.
Goswami and two other accused were arrested by the Maharashtra Police last Wednesday after the investigation in the 2018 FIR concerning Naik’s suicide (CR No. 59 of 2018) was re-opened earlier this year.
The three were allegedly named in Naik’s suicide note. Naik is stated to have alleged that they had not paid financial dues to his company Concorde Designs Private Ltd, owing to which his company had faced losses.
Goswami was produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate at Alibaug on Wednesday, where the Maharashtra Police filed a remand application seeking police custody over Goswami for a period of two weeks.
The CJM rejected the plea for police custody. However, the Court directed that Goswami be remanded to judicial custody till November 18. This order is under challenge before the Sessions Court, which will hear the revision application filed by the Maharashtra Police today.
The main plea challenging the arrest and seeking directions to quash the FIR of 2018 remains and will be heard by the Court on December 10, 2020.