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Bombay HC suspends FIRs registered against Arnab Goswami; Directs no coercive action

The Bombay High Court has suspended two FIR registered against Republic TV Chief Arnab Goswami for his alleged proactive and inflammatory comment over Palghar Lynching and Bandra (West) migrants gathering incident while stating that No Prima Facie Case made out against him. The court has directed no coercive steps shall be taken against the petitioner till the final disposal of matter.

The court observed that there was nothing to show that Goswami tried to cause public disharmony. The court admitted the petition and said that interim protection from coercive steps will be continued until further orders. A division bench of Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Riyaz Chagla heard through videoconferencing a criminal writ plea filed by Goswami seeking various reliefs, including quashing of two FIRs filed against him on April 22 and May 2.

Prima facie, it appears that petitioner as a media journalist had questioned the response or rather the alleged non-response of the Congress party and its President Smt. Sonia Gandhi to the killing of two Hindu saints juxtaposing this with the question as to whether the Congress party or Smt. Sonia Gandhi would have kept quiet if any Maulvi or Padri was killed. Thereafter petitioner made allegations against the foreign origin of Smt. Sonia Gandhi, said the Court.

It Further added, It is quite clear that the object of or the target of the petitioner’s attack was primarily Smt. Sonia Gandhi and the Congress party. There was no mentioning of either the Muslim community or the Christian community. It would be too far-fetched to say that two religious communities were involved in the debate. As a matter of fact, there was no reference to the Muslim community or to the Christian community.

Salve said Goswami’s remarks on the show did not have any malafide intention but could be attributed to journalistic enthusiasm. Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Raja Thakare refuted claims made by Salve and said the statements made by Goswami on his show had hurt sentiments of people and investigation in the same is required.The HC will hear the case in due course.

By Anushka Saxena of Indore Institute of Law

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