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Petitions have been filed before the High Courts of Karnataka and Bombay seeking registration of FIR against Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, even as the Supreme Court granted him protection from arrest earlier today.
Notably, the petition filed before Karnataka High Court also prays for a direction to stop the broadcasting of Republic TV and also to stop 'The Debate', the primetime show anchored by Goswami.
The petition filed by Mohammed Arif notes that Republic TV and various other channels attributed the spread of COVID-19 to the entire Muslim community of India, after news of the Tablighi Jamaat incident came to light. This created a system of fear of social boycott for the entire Muslim community, the petitioner contends.
The petition also states that after the Central government approached the Supreme Court urging it to bar the media from publishing COVID-19 information not confirmed by it, the Court had directed the media to be responsible in its coverage of the pandemic.
It is further contended that Arnab Goswami has not only tried to promote communal disharmony among the people, but has also resorted to shameful acts of derogatory, defamatory, name shaming on live TV.
The petition cites various quotes by Goswami, one of which was against Indian National Congress President, Sonia Gandhi.
"I would like to ask the country, would the country had remained silent if Maulvis or Christian Padres would have been targeted the way Hindu saints were? Would Italy’s Antonia Maino (Sonia Gandhi) have remained silent then? I would like to tell you, if the victims had been Christian padres, Sonia Gandhi, who had come from Rome, would not have remained close-mouthed on the issue...I am telling you. She would prepare and send a report to Italy in which she would state where she had formed a government in a state, and she is getting Hindu saints killed there. And she would receive applause from there (Italy),”
The plea points out that the above quote goes to show that Goswami had completely defied the Supreme Court directions, and therefore, was liable for criminal action.
Further, the petitioner also argues that Goswami broadcast fake news by claiming that the recent mob lynching of three people in Maharashtra's Palghar district was committed by either a Muslim or Christian mob.
Adding on, it was highlighted that the statements made by Goswami amount to a punishable offence and an assault on constitutional values, including the right to life, of an entire community.
On these grounds, the petition has urged the Karnataka High Court to stop the broadcasting of the Republic TV.
The petition filed before the Bombay High Court seeks a direction to file an FIR against Arnab Goswami, and an interim ban on all broadcasting by Goswami and Republic TV.
The prayers have been made on the grounds of falsely reinforcing fake news that the mob lynching in Palghar was committed by either a Muslim or a Christian mob.
The petitioners Suraj Singh Thakur and Bhai Jagtap also add that the said lynching is alleged to have been committed due to the religion of the victims, whereas it was already well known at the time that the mob consisted of members of the same religion as the victims of the lynching.
Goswami's statements such as “Italy waali Sonia Gandhi/Antonia Maino...khush hai ki santo ko sadko pe mara gaya” (Italy’s Sonia Gandhi is happy that Hindu saints were slaughtered on the streets) were aimed to cause political uproar, the petition adds.
Accordingly, the petition states that Goswami has deployed hate speech, promoting enmity between different religious groups by communalizing and politicizing the incident.
Further, the petitions asserted that the means utilized by Goswami and Republic TV are downright unethical and abusive of the true notion of freedom of speech and the press.
Earlier, today, the Supreme Court today granted Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami three weeks' protection from arrest in relation to the FIRs filed against him for the alleged defamation of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
While doing so, the Court directed for proceedings in all FIRs except the primary one filed in Nagpur to be stayed until further orders.
[Read petitions here]