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The Maharashtra government has filed an application in the Supreme Court stating that Republic TV Editor Arnab Goswami has abused the interim protection granted to him by attempting to “browbeat” the Mumbai Police by “creating a fear psychosis”.
Arnab Goswami was granted interim protection by the Apex Court on April 24. The Court had directed that no coercive steps would be taken against the journalist in relation to the multiple FIRs lodged against him for defaming Congress President Sonia Gandhi and raking communal tensions in the country.
The application states that after Mumbai Police questioned Goswami for the FIR lodged against him in Nagpur by Congress leader Nitin Raut, a show aired on ‘Republic Bharat’ cast aspersions on the Mumbai Police by alleging that it was not investigating the FIR lodged by Goswami, as it was “biased.”
In this regard, the application reads,
“An announcement on Republic Bharat stated that Goswami was interrogated by the police with regard to the said FIR, but that with regard to the petitioner’s FIR, the police refused to register either assault or conspiracy and were covering up the matter.”
The Maharashtra government has thus stated that such tweets by Goswami's channel “created an impression that the police are biased against the petitioner, the police are investigating only the FIR against him, and that police was covering up for the FIR registered by Goswami.”
The application also notes that “after not being satisfied with the interrogation”, a debate was hosted on the Republic Bharat channel, where he made several personal false statements against the Commissioner of the Mumbai Police.
"Goswami had mentioned in his show that the Mumbai police commissioner was involved with India Bulls, which is a scam and that the petitioner was investigating India bulls. He also stated that many officers of Mumbai police was involved with India Bulls."
Application filed in Supreme Court
Praying that the Apex Court intervene so that Goswami does not abuse the interim protection granted to him, the application states,
“...this shows an extremely disturbing state of affairs and the impunity with which the petitioner has denigrated the institution of police at large and the investigating agency entrusted with the investigations into the above cases.”
"This appears to be aimed solely at browbeating the investigating officers by creating a fear psychosis that they would also face dire consequences and would be publicly ridiculed, if they proceed for investigations in the two FIRs, one lodged by the petitioner and one against him, against his dictates."
Application before Apex Court
The Maharashtra government has thus urged the Supreme Court that this is “a fit case where the court should take serious cognizance of the endeavours made by the petitioner to interfere with the investigation by the police and the endeavours made by the petitioner to browbeat the police officers.” The application goes on to state,
“A balance needs to be maintained between the rights of the petitioner as a senior journalist vis a vis the prerogative of the investigating agency to conduct investigations into the crime as an arm of the law without any fear, threat or pressure."
Substantiating that Goswami had clearly abused the journalistic freedom available to him under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution, the application states that “conduct of Goswami would tantamount to encroaching upon the area of investigation as also subjecting the entire criminal justice system to ridicule.”
On these grounds and others, the Maharashtra government has sought directions to insulate the investigating agency from any pressure, threat or coercion from Goswami and to “enable the investigating agency to carry out its lawful obligations.”
The application has been filed through Advocate Sachin Patil.