On Tuesday, the Supreme Court rejected a request by Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, who sought to transfer the investigations into the cases against him for spreading communal hatred to the CBI from the Maharashtra Police. The court further refused to quash FIRs against him and ruled that police could investigate the cases lodged against Goswami.
The bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud stated that “There can be no quashing of FIR under Article 32. The petitioner has the liberty to pursue a remedy before the competent court. The FIR does not cover the offence of criminal defamation; therefore, it is not necessary to address prayer on that issue.” However, Goswami’s interim protection from arrest has been extended for another three weeks during which time he can seek an appropriate remedy.
“Multiple criminal proceedings have arisen from the same cause of action. It’s the same offense in the earlier complaints. TK Antony case covers this issue. Police is not prevented from the investigation,” observed the bench on Tuesday while noting that Article 32 protected the fundamental right of journalists to speak ‘truth to power’, however, the court cited that the right was not absolute.
Goswami had moved the Supreme Court seeking to quash multiple FIRs lodged against him in various states over his alleged defamatory statements against Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi in a news show relating to the Palghar mob-lynching case. Goswami had also sought transfer of a case against him in Mumbai to the CBI for investigation. He claimed that he was interrogated by Mumbai Police for over 12 hours with regard to an FIR on alleged defamatory statements and one of the two investigating officers probing the case against him had tested positive for COVID-19.
The Maharashtra government had also moved the Supreme Court against Goswami, alleging that the journalist is using his position to indulge in ‘vicious propaganda’ against the police force and the Mumbai Police Commissioner. It further accused that he has been browbeating the police by ‘creating fear psychosis’.
Subsequently, on 11th May, the apex court bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah extended the interim protection granted to Goswami, till the bench passes an order on his pleas to transfer the investigation of the FIRs filed against him with regards to Palghar mob-lynching and Bandra migrant gatherings, to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The bench has further reserved orders on the aforementioned writ petition, while directing the Mumbai police commissioner to provide him protection.