‘This has never been the level of our public discourse’: CJI tells Republic TV chief Arnab Goswami’s counsel

SC was hearing special leave petition filed by Maharashtra against the June 30 order of the Bombay High Court staying the investigation against Republic TV Chief Editor Arnab Goswami

Arnab Goswami (Photo courtesy- social media)
Arnab Goswami (Photo courtesy- social media)

NH Web Desk

The Chief Justice of India on Monday passed certain remarks on the style of reporting followed by Arnab Goswami, Chief Editor of the Republic TV.

"You can be a little old-fashioned with reporting. Frankly speaking, I cannot stand it. This has never been the level of our public discourse", CJI Bobde told Senior Advocate Harish Salve, who was appearing for Goswami, legal news website LiveLaw.in has reported.

The court was hearing the special leave petition filed by the state of Maharashtra against the June 30 order of the Bombay High Court staying the investigation against Republic TV Chief Editor, Arnab Goswami. The FIRs were registered on the allegations that Arnab Goswami's coverage of Palghar lynching and Bandra migrants gathering incited communal hatred.

CJI Bobde observed while the court accepts the importance of freedom of press, it cannot mean that a media person should not be asked questions.

"There has to be responsibility in reporting. There are some areas one has to tread with caution. As a court, our important concern is peace and harmony in the society," CJI told Salve.

The Chief Justice told Salve that the court wanted an assurance of responsibility from his client.

Salve replied that he agreed with the court's views but added that the present FIR is not genuine and not to be taken at face value. Even last week, another FIR was filed against the entire editorial team of Republic TV, he pointed out.

The court adjourned the hearing for two weeks asking Goswami to file an affidavit stating what he proposed to do. The Maharashtra government has also been asked to submit a list of FIRs registered against Goswami.

Senior Advocate Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the state of Maharahstra, took exception to the High Court staying the entire investigation. He said that the police will not arrest Goswami even if the investigation is revived and undertook to serve 48 hours prior notice to Goswami to appear for interrogation.

When Singhvi submitted that some people cannot be treated above the law, CJI Bobde remarked that "some people are targeted with higher intensity".

"That is the culture these days. Some people need higher protection", CJI said.

The impugned order stayed the investigation in two FIRs registered by the Mumbai police alleging that the Goswami incited communal hatred while debating on the incidents of Palghar mob lynching case and the gathering of migrant workers at Bandra railway station in April.

In the Bombay High Court, a division bench of Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Riyaz Chagla had suspended the investigation after observing "prima facie no case was made out against him".

The Republic TV Chief was booked under Sections 153, 153 A, 153 B, 295 A, 298, 500, 504, 505(2), 506, 120 B and 117 of the Indian Penal Code.

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