FIR against Arnab Goswami prima facie doesn’t establish abetment to suicide charge: SC

Bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud criticises Bombay HC for abdicating its role, functions and jurisdiction

FIR against Arnab Goswami prima facie doesn’t establish abetment to suicide charge: SC

Photo for representation only

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 27

Sixteen days after ordering release of Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami’s release, the Supreme Court on Friday delivered a detailed judgement which said the FIR against him prima facie didn’t establish abetment to suicide charge.

A Bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud said “a prima facie evaluation of the FIR does not establish the ingredients of the offence of abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the IPC.”

It ordered that the interim bail granted to Goswami and  two other accused—Feroz Mohammad Shaikh and Neetish Sarda—on November 11 shall remain operational four weeks after the Bombay High Court disposed of their plea for quashing of the FIR. If rejected, they can move the top court.

The top court criticised the Bombay High Court for failing to notice the contents of the FIR and making a prima facie evaluation and abdicating its role, functions and jurisdiction when seized of a petition under Section 482 of the CrPC.

The high court should not have refused to exercise its powers “when a citizen has been arbitrarily deprived of their personal liberty in an excess of state power.”

The top court lamented that 91,568 bail applications were pending in High Courts, while 1.96 lakh such pleas were hanging fire in district courts.

Maintaining that “Liberty is not a gift for the few”, the top court asked high courts and District Court’s to monitor pendency of bail applications to ensure protection of personal liberty of ordinary people.

“It is through the instrumentality of bail that our criminal justice system’s primordial interest in preserving the presumption of innocence finds its most eloquent expression. The remedy of bail is the solemn expression of the humaneness of the justice system,” it said.

Noting that fair investigation of crime was an aid to it, the Bench said, “Equally it is the duty of courts across the spectrum – the district judiciary, the High Courts and the Supreme Court – to ensure that the criminal law does not become a weapon for the selective harassment of citizens.

“Courts should be alive to both ends of the spectrum – the need to ensure the proper enforcement of criminal law on the one hand and the need, on the other, of ensuring that the law does not become a ruse for targeted harassment,” said the Bench which had on November 11 ordered Maharashtra Government to release Goswami forthwith.

It would be a travesty of justice if personal liberty of a person was curtailed like this, it had said.

Goswami and the two other accused had challenged the Bombay High Court’s November 9 order denying them interim bail in connection with the 2018 alleged abetment to suicide of an interior designer and had asked them to approach the sessions court.

 

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