In a setback to Arnab Goswami, a Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde on Thursday dismissed a plea by Republic TV founder seeking quashing of FIR filed by the Mumbai Police. This came days after the controversial anchor launched a blistering attack against Salman Khan with ‘senior citizen’ and ‘Bigg Boss of drugs’ jibes.
Representing Goswami’s company, ARG Outlier Media Lts, which runs Republic TV channels, senior advocate Siddharth Bhatnagar said that his client challenged the ‘Police (Incitement to Disaffection) Act, 1922.’ “It was colonial act made to regulate nationalistic activities and now it is being used to curb fundamental rights,” Bhatnagar was quoted by Livelaw.
CJI Bobde asked why Goswami had not approached the Bombay High Court since the case had originated in Maharashtra. Goswami’s lawyer informed that the Bombay High Court had already upheld the constitutionality of the Act.
The top court then dismissed the petition as withdrawn with liberty to approach the high court.
SC dismisses the petition as withdrawn with liberty to approach the High Court.#RepublicTV
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) December 17, 2020
In October this year, the Mumbai Police had registered an FIR against the entire editorial team working for Republic TV at NM Joshi Marg police station under Section 3(1) of the Police (Incitement to Disaffection) Act, 1922 read with Section 500, 34 of Indian Penal Code on a complaint filed by PSI Shashikant Pawar, Special Branch 1.
Goswami and his team have been accused of using terms such as ‘revolt brewing against Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh’ in their TV broadcasts.
A statement by Republic TV said that its editorial staff had been booked for a serious non-bailable offence for inciting to cause disaffection among members of the police force and ‘defaming the Mumbai Police under sections 500 and 34 of the IPC.’
A visibly angry Arnab Goswami slammed the Mumbai Police and had said, “For the first time in Indian history, an FIR has been filed against every editorial staff of a network. This means that 1000 employees of the Republic Media Network have been booked by the Mumbai police. They (Mumbai police) say ‘How can you air the Hansa report?’ and we said, ‘we will not reveal our sources’. Hence half an hour ago, Param Bir Singh instructed to file a case against all Republic editorial staff. The staff who are part of the production team, graphics team, promos team – we produce the news together. Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray, let there be a one-on-one now.”
Goswami was later arrested in the abetment to suicide case and had to spend a week inside a Navi Mumbai jail.
Goswami had also targeted Salman Khan and launched several disparaging jibes such as ‘senior citizen’ and ‘Bigg Boss of drugs’ against the Bollywood actor. Earlier this week, Goswami had also dared India TV founder Rajat Sharma for a face-off on the latter’s channel.