Arnab Goswami, the voluble editor of Republic TV had mixed luck in the Supreme Court on Tuesday as it rejected his plea to transfer the cases filed against him for hate speech, criminal defamation and promoting enmity between religious groups to the CBI, even as it extended his protection against arrest by three weeks and allowed his challenge against multiple FIRs on the same issue.
A bench headed Justice DY Chandrachud has also asked the Mumbai police to ensure full protection and safety in the time period.
The salient points made by the court were:
*Article 32 of Constitution entrusts court to protect Fundamental rights.
Journalistic freedom lies at core of Freedom of expression.
*India’s freedom of press stays as long as journalists can speak truth to power but this Freedom is not absolute.
*Multiple complaints will have stifling effect.
*Free citizens cannot exist if news media cant speak.
*Questions you cannot answer are better than answers you cannot question.
*Power of transfer of investigation to CBI has to be exercised sparingly.
*NO Transfer of investigation to CBI.
*Interim order transferring investigation from Nagpur to Mumbai confirmed. Investigation in complaint against Goswami to continue at Mumbai.
*No quashing of FIR under art 32. Petitioner can pursue remedy before competent court.
*FIR does not cover offence criminal defamation.
*Subsequent FIRs and complaints are quashed.
*No other FIR or complaint shall be entertained or pursued on basis of broadcast made by petitioner on April 21.
*Court- Multiple FIRs and complaints cannot be made on same cause of action.
The top court had on May 11 directed that no coercive action should be taken against Goswami in the fresh FIR lodged by Mumbai police and had reserved its verdict on both of his petitions.
Goswami had claimed in the top court that he was interrogated by Mumbai police for over 12 hours with regard to FIR on alleged defamatory statements and one of the two investigating officers probing the case against him has tested positive for Covid-19.
Maharashtra government had also moved the apex court alleging that Goswami has been misusing protection granted by the top court and has been “browbeating” the police by “creating fear psychosis”.
During the hearing on May 11, senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Goswami, had argued that this case is all about a political party targeting a journalist as the complainants are members of one particular party.
“This will have a chilling effect on freedom of press,” he had said, adding that press is not institutionalized but other institutions are protected and there are safeguards, wherein judges, MPs and bureaucrats are protected.
The top court on April 24 had granted 3-week protection to Goswami against any coercive steps in connection with some FIRs lodged against him in various states for alleged defamatory statements made during news shows on Palghar mob-lynching of three persons, including two saints in Maharashtra.
The May 2 FIR was lodged in Mumbai against him and two others for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by making derogatory remark regarding a mosque located in suburban Bandra, a Mumbai Police officer had said.
Read the Full Judgement Here;11006-2020-33-1501-22077-Judgement-19-May-2020
-India Legal Bureau