Thursday, May 30, 2024

‘Why the arrest is illegal’: Salve makes compelling case in Arnab’s defence

Senior advocate Harish Salve put forth many strong arguments in the Bombay High Court against the arrest of Republic TV chief Arnab Goswami. His arguments based on sound law and many judgements were in 2018 abetment to suicide case and the privilege motion against him in the Legislative Assembly of Maharashtra.

“Cases after cases” were being filed against Arnab Goswami, Harish Salve had argued, pressing for interim relief, saying “Constitutional courts have to see the reality, not the smoke screen”, as per a report.

The suicide case has been “reopened” without the competent court’s permission as required under law. This was something that was taken note of by the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) in Alibaug who had refused Arnab’s police custody, argued Salve.

The Alibag CJM has confirmed that the permission of the court was not taken for reopening the case. “The remand order makes important points about the illegality of arrest,” Salve told the Bombay High Court.

He also argued that the court could grant bail to his client even when the CJM order stands challenged. The bail could be granted under Section 226, he added explaining things further.

Salve also mentioned Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut who have made statements against Arnab. “The Home Minister said in assembly that the suicide of Anvay Naik was due to the non-payment of dues by Arnab Goswami. Is the Minister above the judiciary to decide?” he asked.

“The Home Minister said that necessary `orders will be issued to the Police’. Please mark the words,” Salve thundered.

Salve said: “I won’t blame Raut for not knowing the law. I will show to the court some judgements.” He added: “One thing is clear. The CJM has found that the inquiry commenced without Section 173 (8) order. This is corroborated by the statement of Home Minister.”

Salve tried to prove that the case had no merit and that the arrest was bad in law. He quoted a couple of cases to illustrate his point.

“The intention of the accused to aid or instigate or abet the deceased to commit suicide is necessary for abetment to suicide offense,” he said.

“Without a positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in committing suicide, conviction cannot be sustained” Salve stated as he quoted from the judgment in the ‘M Arjunan v State’ case. He also referred to the ‘Gurucharan Singh v State of Punjab’ case and said, “‘I can cite a half a dozen more cases. But I think I have made the point clear.”

Salve continued to argue on the merits of the case while strongly making the point that the evidence against Arnab Goswami was non-existent., “What are the admitted facts? For two years there was a money problem. Somebody owed 4 crores. Somebody owed 83 lakhs.” 

Very importantly, Salve pointed out to the court, “The Magistrate rightly asked why the mother committed suicide”— a question which still looms at large in the context of this case.

Salve sliced the allegation that Arnab Goswami was responsible for the suicide by saying, “Nobody has suggested that there was any personal relationship between the accused and the deceased. It was a commercial transaction.”

Rooted in law, Salve stated, “The conduct for abetment to suicide must be “direct and proximate”. 

“You have commercial disputes with different people for over two years. You don’t file a suit. You have creditors beating at your door. You kill yourself. There cannot be FIR for abetment to suicide for this,” Salve asserted in court. 

Salve highlighted the Bombay High Court provided relief to Goswami in the FIRs over his reportage of the Palghar mob lynching to highlight the ‘pattern’ and ‘malice’ at play.

“There is a pattern”, Harish Salve said. “HC has protected him from arrest in two FIRs. The TRP case came after that,” he added.

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