Bombay HC stays two FIRs against Arnab Goswami over 'provocative remarks', says no prime facie evidence against him
Goswami was booked in two cases related to his alleged provocative remarks and defaming Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi in a television debate
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday stayed two FIRs registered against Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami in Mumbai over his alleged provocative remarks during a television debate on Palghar lynching incident and report of Bandra station crowding incident.
A division bench of Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Riaz Chagla, while staying the FIRs, observed that prima facie there is no evidence on record against Arnab Goswami. The High Court had reserved its order on the matter on 12 June after hearing the argument from all the sides.
The High Court said that all further proceedings in the two FIRs will remain suspended.
Goswami was booked in two cases related to his alleged provocative remarks and defaming Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi in a television debate on Palghar mob lynching incident and Bandra station crowding incident report at NM Joshi Marg police station and Pydhonie police station respectively.
The two cases were registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including provocation with intent to cause riots, defamation, statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes, criminal intimidation, and criminal conspiracy.
"On an overall reading of the FIR, statement of the informant and transcript of the broadcast, it would be wrong to say that petitioner had made the statements in the broadcast with a view to defame or insult the feelings of any religious group or community," the order said.
"We have already noted and referred to the observations of the Supreme Court that India's freedoms will rest safe as long as journalists can speak to power without being chilled by a threat of reprisal; free citizens cannot exist when the news media is chained to adhere to one position," it added.
Notably, several FIRs were also registered against Goswami in states across the country for allegedly defaming Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi in a televised debate on the Palghar mob lynching incident.
Earlier, the Bombay High Court had refused to restrain Goswami from anchoring on his channel until the pendency of several cases against him over the debate.
While the Supreme Court had refused to quash the FIRs registered against Arnab Goswami for allegedly defaming Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi, however, it had granted interim protection against any coercive actions in the matter.
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