News channel Republic TV’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami filed a petition in the Bombay High Court on Thursday, challenging his “illegal arrest” by the Maharashtra Police in the 2018 case of abetment of suicide of an interior designer.
Goswami was remanded to 14-day judicial custody and taken to a temporary prison arranged in a school in Alibaug by the Maharashtra Police.
In 2018, architect Anvay Naik and his mother died by suicide over alleged non-payment of dues by Goswami’s Republic TV, a police official said to The Indian Express.
A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik on Thursday agreed to consider the petition filed by Anvay Naik’s daughter Adnya Naik in the case on Friday at 3 pm. Justice Shinde also said that the bench will hear both sides before passing the order.
During the probe, the police had found a suicide note mentioning that Naik and his mother took their lives after the non-payment of dues to Naik’s company Concorde Designs Pvt Ltd by Goswami of Republic TV, Feroz Shaikh of IcastX/Skimedia, and Niteish Sarda of Smartworks. They owed Rs 83 lakh, Rs 4 crore, and Rs 55 lakh respectively.
According to the police, Naik was heavily indebted to contractors and was struggling to repay the money. They also found that a non-cognisable (NC) complaint was registered by Naik against one of the contractors in Mumbai, after the latter had threatened Naik to repay the money.
Denying the charges, Goswami claimed that he had cleared all the payments.
The case was closed last April by the Raigad police after they could not get any evidence against the three accused as mentioned in the suicide note.
In May, Naik’s wife Akshata and daughter Adnya Naik had approached Maharashta Home Minister Anil Deshmukh demanding to reopen the case. The duo accused the Raigad and Mumbai Police of favouring Goswami and not conducting a fair investigation. On Deshmukh’s orders, the case was transferred to the CID in May.
Adnya Naik had complained to me that #AlibaugPolice had not investigated non-payment of dues from #ArnabGoswami's @republic which drove her entrepreneur father & grandmom to suicide in May 2018. I've ordered a CID re-investigation of the case.#MaharashtraGovernmentCares
— ANIL DESHMUKH (@AnilDeshmukhNCP) May 26, 2020
After Goswami was arrested and dragged out of his home on Wednesday, several Union ministers came out in his support and compared his arrest to the Emergency period, imposed by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. As per a report by The Hindu, the Editor’s Guild said it was “shocked” to learn about the arrest and called upon Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to ensure that the senior journalist was treated fairly and that state power is not used against critical reporting by the media.