While hearing Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami's interim bail plea in a 2018 abetment to suicide case, the Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed strong displeasure over the Bombay High Court's dismissal of the petition.
"Supreme Court is unhappy that High Courts are not doing enough in matters where personal liberty is denied. If state govt's target individuals in this manner, let's send out a message that SC is there," Justice Chandrachud said.
The two-judge bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee also pulled up Maharashtra government. Justice Chandrachud asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of Maharashtra if there was any encouragement or instigation in the case to constitute an offence of abetment to suicide or else the Court is dealing with a matter of personal liberty.
Chandrachud added that India's democracy is extraordinarily resilient and Maharashtra government must ignore factors like channel's taunts or comments on the government or political leaders, reported Indian Express. The bench said if individuals are targetted in such a manner, states must realise that the Supreme Court is there to protect its citizens.
Appearing on behalf of Goswami, advocate Harish Salve said that Maharashtra Police sought custodial interrogation of Goswami to teach him a lesson. "Allegation (against Goswami) is about withholding money which can be ascertained from documents. What's the need for custodial interrogation? It's just a smokescreen to teach the man a lesson," Salve said.
Salve argued that the police arrested Goswami based on a three-year-old FIR, and the state government's intentions were crystal clear. He also alleged the government was misusing that re-investigation.
On November 9, the Bombay High Court rejected interim bail to Goswami in the 2018 abetment to suicide case, saying that 'no case was made for the exercise of extraordinary jurisdiction'. The court also denied bail to co-accused Nitish Sarda and Feroz Sheikh.