On Monday, advocate Harish Salve, while appearing for Republic TV founder and Editor Arnab Goswami, claimed that at least one of the two senior Mumbai Police officials who were a part of the team that questioned Goswami has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, said a report by Live Law.
Advocate Harish Salve on Monday alleged in the Supreme Court that the investigation on the FIRs against Goswami for allegedly defaming Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi was not being conducted in a proper manner.
A bench headed by Justice Dr DY Chandrachud and also comprising Justice MR Shah was hearing a plea seeking quashing of a fresh FIR registered against Goswami in Mumbai on May 2 over the shows telecast on April 14 and 15. "There are already a slew of FIRs against the petitioner for his show. The nature of the investigation in the matter has clearly shown that this is a tactic against the petitioner," Salve told the apex court.
"The police is interrogating Goswami for over 12 hours. Does the FIRs in the matter need so much time for the interrogation of my client? It does not. He was asked about the detailed of his editorial team, content and company funds by the police," he added.
Raising questions about the mindset of Mumbai Police, Salve said, the investigation is not going in a proper manner and asked the top court to look into the matter. "Where has the money come from and other similar questions were asked to Goswami. There could be a chilling effect on the freedom of the press," Salve said.
When it comes to freedom of the press, how is the law to work in a situation like this, Salve said. "If a comment is made has a communal overtone. Can the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), without any checks and safeguards be applied to the telecast and opinions on TV and print? There is no riot. You are investigating a news telecast or an article. If you apply the mechanism of the CrPC. Can the police arrest a journalist?" he asked.
Salve said that he can approach the Bombay High court seeking directions for the CBI to probe the matter and file its report in the court. On the other hand, senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Maharashtra government said that there are unique ways to deal with the investigation in different cases. "The accused said his fundamental duties were violated. That he was not allowed to use his mobile phone and that he was not allowed to be involved in the journalistic process. He was asked a consolidated way of questions. Is this harassment? It is not," Sibal submitted.
"Stop this communal violence and communal mongering. Decency and morality and other things you need to follow. This is a clear violation of Article 19. You are stigmatising people by way of sensationalising things," he added.
The top court had, last month, granted interim protection from arrest to Goswami for a period of three weeks in connection with the FIRs against him and said that no coercive actions should be taken against him during this time.