No coercive action against Arnab Goswami for three weeks: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court on Friday granted protection against any coercive steps for three weeks to Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami in connection with the several FIRs registered against him in a few states over his remarks on a TV show related to the Palghar lynching case and against Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah, who was hearing the plea via video-conferencing, also put a stay on all the FIRs, barring the one which was registered in Nagpur. "No coercive actions will be taken against Goswami for two weeks," the court declared.
The court also said that Goswami can later file anticipatory bail plea in connection with the FIRs after three weeks and that he should cooperate with the investigating agency.
The court further permitted the journalist to amend his plea for impleading the complainants against him as parties in the apex court and also permitted him to seek clubbing of the FIRs lodged against him.
In his plea through advocate Pragya Baghel, Goswami had challenged the FIRs against him and had also sought protection from any coercive action.
Appearing for the television news anchor, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi criticized the "frivolous complaints against his client" and said the FIRs were an attempt to muzzle the press. "There can't be multiple FIRs with same cause of action," he told the bench.
Referring to the television debate on the Palghar lynching case, Rohatgi said, "When there is political debate, there will be provocative questions. If sadhus have been killed and there is a turmoil within the Hindu community, then why are you not raising any questions? This is the nature of the dispute."
Rohatgi also referred to the alleged attack on Goswami and his wife and called it a "murderous assault" on the duo.
However, defence lawyer Kapil Sibal referred to a few remarks made on the television debate and wondered if it came under the Right to Freedom of Speech. "You are trying to ignite communal violence here by putting Hindus against minority," he argued.
"What's the problem if Congress workers have filed FIRs? Is Goswami so special that he will not appear for questioning? Doesn't the file FIR? Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is appearing in a defamation case. There is no question of protection," he added.
Several FIRs were registered against the television anchor in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, Punjab and West Bengal.
(inputs and image from theindianexpress.com)