What’s so special about Arnab Goswami? If Kanhaiya Kumar could be investigated, why not Goswami?

If Rahul Gandhi can appear before the court in a defamation case, why not Goswami? What’s wrong if Congress workers file FIRs? Don’t BJP workers file FIRs?

TV anchor Arnab Goswami
TV anchor Arnab Goswami

NH Web Desk

The Supreme Court on Friday extended protection from arrest for three weeks to Arnab Goswami, part owner, Editor and anchor of Republic TV and ordered that all charges against him for inciting communal violence, enmity and hatred between communities be investigated through one FIR in Mumbai.

The court while issuing notice to the central government and the states directed the petitioner to amend his petition for clubbing all cases and allowed the petitioner to move for anticipatory bail in the trial court or the high court during these three weeks.

Maharashtra and state governments of Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan opposed any protection to the anchor and called for action for violating the conditions of his broadcasting license.

The petition filed after 8 pm on Thursday was taken up on an urgent basis by the court at 10.30 am on Friday and after hearing Mukul Rohatgi, former Attorney General who appeared on behalf of Goswami and Republic TV, and Kapil Sibal for the Maharashtra Government, the court offered partial relief to the anchor.

Earlier Kapil Sibal asked what was so special about Arnab Goswami. If Kanhaiya Kumar, the former JNU student leader, could be investigated for alleged incitement to riot, why can’t similar allegations against Goswami be investigated against the anchor, he asked.

"If Congress workers have filed FIRs then what's the problem? Don't BJP workers file FIRs?" he asked.

Sibal read out the anchor’s statements made on TV in his show on April 21 and questioned if this could ever come under freedom of speech. "You are trying to ignite communal violence here by putting Hindus against minority", Sibal argued.

Justice Chandrachud: Court intends to protect the petitioner for a period of two weeks from today and permit him to move anticipatory bail application before the trial court or high court. Second thing which we will do is that we will stay further proceedings in all fIRs except one. Cause of action appears to be in one state. So we will stay the FIR pending the amendment of the petition.

Vivek Tankha, appearing for other state governments told the court, "The gentleman who has come before the court is promoting communal disharmony and has vitiated the atmosphere at the time of lockdown. Instigating enmity. Today you cannot imagine the outrage this has caused and the man is seeking protection of this court after inciting people," he said.

"Don't give any protection to such kind of people. They have broadcasting license and can they say whatever they can?”

When Justice Chandrachud pointed out that multiple FIRs had been filed with the same cause of action, Kapil Sibal said that Goswami could certainly have pleaded for the court to club the cases.

The Maharashtra Government informed that FIRs couldn’t be quashed at this stage

The Legal Editor of Network18 Utkarsh Anand had earlier tweeted parts of the petition filed by Goswami in the Supreme Court today and maintained that the petition

  • Wrongly mentions all complaints in states ruled by the Congress
  • States that channel used for fostering communal harmony
  • Congress trying to muzzle free speech
  • Seeks security from Central Govt

Mukul Rohatgi argued that Goswami, not being a political leader, could not be compared to Rahul Gandhi. "My client conducted a debate on his TV show. He raised questions over police and raised some provocative questions for the Congress chief by saying that when people from minority are killed Congress is the first to raise the issue. So, why isn't the chief now raising the issue?"

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Published: 24 Apr 2020, 1:17 PM