Huge setback as Supreme Court rejects Arnab Goswami’s plea for quashing of FIRs, transfer of case to CBI; days after criticism from Kavita Kaushik and Saif Ali Khan’s co-star

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In a huge setback for Arnab Goswami, the Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected his pleas for the quashing of FIRs and the transfer of the case to the CBI, which reports to the Centre’s Narendra Modi government. This came days after Goswami faced criticism from several entertain celebrities including Mulk director Anubhav Sinha, FIR actress Kavita Kaushik and Saif Ali Khan’s co-star Kubbra Saith.

The Bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said in its order, “There can be no quashing of FIR under Article 32. The Petitioner has the liberty to pursue remedy before the competent court. The FIR does not cover offence of criminal defamation, therefore it is not necessary to address prayer on that issue.”

Goswami’s lawyer Harish Salve had also made a desperate plea to transfer the case to the CBI from the Mumbai Police. The Supreme Court Bench rejected the prayer for transfer of investigation to the CBI. The court, however, extended the three-week protection from arrest to Goswami by another three weeks.

The top court also contended that India’s freedom of the press was effective as long as journalists could speak truth to power but this freedom was not absolute.

Reading the judgment, Justice Chandrachud said, “Multiple complaints will have a stifling effect. The right of journalists under Article 19(1)(a) is higher and free citizens cannot exist without free media. Questions you cannot answer are better than questions you cannot question.”



 

Goswami had several FIRs filed against him by Congress leaders and workers for his broadcast on the Palghar lynching. In his controversial broadcast, Goswami had launched a personal attack against Congress President Sonia Gandhi and attempted to give a communal colour to the murder of two Hindu monks. This was despite Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh issuing a clarification that the religion of the accused was not different from the faith of those killed.



The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that all subsequent FIRs and complaints were quashed, ‘and no other FIR or complaint shall be entertained or pursued on the basis of a broadcast made by Petitioner on 21st April.’ It added, “Second writ petition regarding the alleged attack is dismissed.”

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