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A single judge bench of the Bombay High Court led by Justice Prithviraj K Chavan recently denied granting permission to register an FIR against journalist Arnab Goswami and Republic TV.
A plea in this regard had been moved by Suraj Singh Thakur, the Maharashtra State Vice President of the Indian Youth Congress and Bhai Jagtap, Member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council and member of the Indian National Congress, through Advocate Rahul Kamerkar seeking the immediate registration of an FIR against the editor-in-chief of Republic TV and the managers of the channel.
The High Court, however, refused to pass orders given that the Supreme Court was already hearing this case.
"It is quite apparent that the Supreme Court is seized of the matter, more particularly, the complaint in question dated 22.4.2020 lodged by one of the petitioners - Vice-President of the Indian Youth Congress with the Senior Police Officer, Chirag Nagar, Ghatkopar (West), Mumbai," reads the May 12 order.
The Court also added that "no case is made out for any interim relief" and that the "petitioners may approach the Supreme Court for redressal of their grievance, if any."
The primary ground for seeking an FIR was on allegations that Goswami's show promoted enmity between different groups on grounds of religion.
"Even though it was well known that the members of the mob that committed the Palghar incident were of the same religion as the victims, the comments were made" states the plea.
The petition by the Congress further added that an interim order should be issued by the Court to restrain Goswami and Republic TV from airing their programs or speaking on any media platforms until appropriate and thorough investigations are undertaken and concluded in the case.
The plea notes that the ban on all broadcasting by Republic TV should be put in place for "falsely reinforcing the fake news that the mob lynching in Palghar district of Maharashtra on 16th and 17th April, 2020 was committed by either a Muslim or a Christian mob."
Some of the other grounds that the plea rakes up are that the FIR should be ordered as guests on the show of Republic TV "repeatedly reaffirm that the victims were killed for being Hindu, wearing Saffron and/or being Hindu religious leaders, implying that the attack was conducted or sanctioned by another religion."
"Goswami in the video states that the policemen had received 'supari' (contract killing). This will lead any logical person to conclude that the mob lynching was premeditated and state/police sponsored. Whereas it was already clear days before that the mob was acting on false rumours of kidnapping and thievery," says the petition.
The matter before the High Court has now been listed for May 29, even though the Supreme Court has reserved orders on a plea by Goswami to quash the FIRs filed against him.