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The Bombay High Court today directed Republic TV Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami to appear before the Mumbai Police for interrogation on June 10, while adjourning the hearing in his plea for quashing of FIRs till Friday. (Arnab Goswami vs State of Maharashtra - Bombay High Court order 09.06.2020)
The Bench of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Riyaz Chagla directed the same after a brief hearing today.
Court further directed that no coercive action to be taken against Goswami given that the Court is in the midst of hearing the plea.
Goswami had moved the Bombay High Court seeking quashing of the two FIRs registered against him on April 22 and May 2 in relation to his remarks and comments made during primetime debate shows. The comments were made during Republic TV programs pertaining to the gathering of migrant workers in Mumbai's Bandra on April 14, and the Palghar lynching incident.
Goswami was accused of making incendiary and hateful statements that caused disharmony among communities.
After the Supreme Court refused to quash the FIRs filed against Goswami in Maharashtra and directed him to approach the appropriate forum, Goswami moved the Bombay High Court.
When the matter was taken up for hearing today via video conferencing, Goswami's counsel, Senior Counsel Harish Salve, sought an exemption from appearing before the police for interrogation till the matter was sub judice before the Court. This prayer was objected to by Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal, representing the State of Maharashtra.
It was contended on behalf of Goswami that despite the pendency of his matter before the Court, Pydhonie Police Station had requisitioned his presence for interrogation in relation to the FIR filed by the Secretary of Raza Foundation. Pydhonie is a COVID-19 containment zone, it was pointed out.
Sibal suggested that Goswami may appear before NM Joshi Marg Police Station, where another FIR is registered, and that the investigating officers from Pydhonie Police station may question Goswami there.
The Court thus directed Goswami to appear before the NM Joshi Marg Police Station for questioning on June 10 as scheduled, and listed the matter for hearing next on June 12.
Along with Salve, Goswami was represented by Senior Advocate Milind Sathe and Advocates Malvika Trivedhi, Saket Shukla, Mrinal Ojha, Deboshi Dutta, Vasanth Rajasekaran, Ishaan Chhaya, Rajat Pradhan, Sanjeev Sambasivan, Madhavi Doshi, and Reshma Ravi Pati and instructed by Phoenix Legal.
Respondent State was represented by Raja Thakare, with Advocates Rahul Chitnis, Avadhut Chimalkar, Akash Kavade, Siddharth J in addition to Sibal and were instructed by Advocate Deepak Thakre.