Mumbai: Citing two previously registered FIRs related to allegations of disrupting communal harmony registered against Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, Mumbai Police have issued him a show-cause notice under chapter proceedings, asking him why preventing action should not be initiated against him. Goswami has been asked to appear before the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Worli division, on October 16, to plead his innocence.
The notice, dated October 10, refers to the channel’s coverage of two incidents - the lynching of sadhus in Palghar district, and the issue of migrants gathering at Bandra during the lockdown. It alleges that Goswami and his channel gave a communal colour to the incidents and tried to incite communal tension.
If the ACP does not find his response satisfactory, Goswami will have to sign a legal security bond of Rs 10 lakh for good behaviour for a year, implying that if he violates the bond, he will have to pay a penalty of Rs 10 lakh. He will also have to bring along a person as security who would assume responsibility for his behaviour during the duration of the bond period.
The notice was issued by ACP Sudhir Jambavdekar of Worli division, under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) section of 108.
In the notice, the ACP alleged that Goswami had disrupted communal harmony by making aggressive comments on his debate shows and panel discussions, thereby misusing the right to freedom of speech and expression, which could have led to a law and order situation in the city, state and wherever the channel was viewed in the country. In the notice, police had also specified the alleged sensitive comments on the debate shows to draw their conclusions.
The notice was issued in connection with two FIRs registered against Goswami at the Pydhonie and N M Joshi Marg police stations.
Goswami was booked under various sections of the IPC, including inciting hatred and communal harmony between religious groups or communities. An FIR was registered against him over his alleged objectionable coverage of migrants gathering at Bandra station during the lockdown. Another FIR was registered against him by State Power Minister Nitin Raut with the N M Joshi Marg police station for his alleged objectionable coverage on the lynching of sadhus in Palghar district.
The ACP, who holds the power of a special executive magistrate, has asked Goswami to appear before him on October 16, to explain why preventive action should not be issued against him. The ACP can initiate preventive action against him if the former is dissatisfied with Goswami’s explanation.
The notice clarified that Goswami would be given a chance to present his stand on the allegations and can also present documents and witnesses in his defence. However, police will also produce their evidence against him, mentioned in the notice.