Mumbai: Observing that if it grants any interim relief, it will send a wrong signal of undermining the authority of lower courts, the Bombay High Court on Saturday refused to grant interim bail to Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami.
The HC while reserving its orders granted liberty to the journalist to approach a lower court. "If the arrested applicant approaches a lower court, the same must be decided within a period of four days," said a bench of Justices Sambhaji Shinde and Makarand Karnik, while reserving its orders over the plea filed by Arnab challenging his arrest and seeking to quash the 2018 FIR against him.
Presently in judicial custody, the editor of Republic TV is accused of abetting the suicide of an architect by not paying over Rs 80 lakh dues to him. The architect, Anvay Naik had in his suicide note mentioned Arnab's name along with two others, whom he stated "were responsible for his death."
On Saturday, senior counsel Amit Desai appeared for the Maharashtra government and vehemently opposed Arnab's plea seeking his release under interim bail.
In his detailed submissions, Desai argued that Arnab has termed his arrest as an illegal one which is baseless since the arrest has been validated by the order of the Magistrate, who has sent him to judicial custody. "There is no reason to term his arrest as an illegal detention. Further, the Magistrate has sent him to judicial custody but they haven't challenged the custody orders and want bail directly from this court without following the due procedure of first approaching a session court," the senior advocate argued.
"Arnab says the state acted with malice. These allegations are baseless. The statement (regarding this case) on the floor of the state assembly was made in September but the case was already reopened way back in May. There is no question of malice," Desai pointed out.
The state counsel further told the bench that it cannot stay the probe when it is under progress. "The investigation cannot be brought to a standstill when it is under progress. We felt that there is a need for further investigation thus we reopened it," he clarified.
"We are aware that the applicant (Arnab) has rights but so also the victim has their rights. It is the duty of the state to balance the rights of the victim and the accused," Desai argued, adding that Arnab has a legal remedy to first go to a sessions court and seek bail.
The submissions were vehemently countered by senior counsel Harish Salve on behalf of Arnab and he tried a lot to convince the bench to pass an interim order.
However, the bench, which heard the arguments of Salve, Desai and other concerned advocates for nearly seven hours, said, "We won't pass orders right now. And what if we grant an interim relief under this writ of habeas corpus, it might give out a wrong signal of undermining lower court's authority."
"We will pronounce our verdict by next week or so. In the interregnum, you (Arnab) have the liberty to petition the lower courts and seek bail," Justice Shinde said.