Mumbai: Arnab fails to appear before court in suicide abetment case

TV journalist Arnab Goswami, an accused in an abetment of suicide case, failed to appear before a court in Raigad district on Thursday, prompting the prosecution to seek a warrant against him.

The court, however, granted him and other two accused exemption from appearance for the day and adjourned the hearing.

Alibaug Police had arrested Goswami and two others in the case related to interior designer Anvay Naik's alleged suicide in November. They were later granted bail by the Supreme Court.

On Thursday, as the case came up before Alibaug sessions court, Goswami and other two accused -- Firoze Sheikh and Nitish Sarda -- did not appear. Their lawyers sought exemption for the day, which the court granted.

Special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat took a strong exception, saying the accused should have been present for the purpose of identification as this was the first hearing after the court took cognizance of the chargesheet.

He also sought issuance of a warrant against Goswami and the other two.

While keeping Gharat's plea pending, the court noted that as restrictions (on movement and travel) on account of coronavirus are in place till January 31, no coercive action can be taken in such matters.

The court posted the case for hearing on February 6.

On that date, the accused will have to appear before the court, Gharat told PTI.

"In normal circumstances, if an accused fails to respond to summons issued by a court and fails to appear before it on the given date, the court can issue a warrant.

"If on the next date too the accused does not appear then a non-bailable warrant is issued," the prosecutor said.

It is the court's discretion, he said.

The trio are facing a case under IPC sections 306 (abetment to suicide) and 109 (punishment for abetment).

The charge sheet claims that Naik killed his mother, a partner in his business, and hanged himself at their Alibaug house in May 2018 as he was under stress due to non-payment of dues by the firms of the three accused.

Goswami, editor-in-chief of Republic TV, alleged that the police reopened a case which had been closed in 2019 as the Maharashtra government wanted to harass him.

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