Chief Justice of India SA Bobde on Monday expressed his disgust on Arnab Goswami’s style of news coverage as he told Goswami’s lawyer Harish Salve that even he could not ‘stand’ the TV coverage designed to cause communal disharmony in the society. This was after the Maharashtra government filed an appeal against the Bombay High Court’s order staying a police investigation against the Republic TV founder.
Representing the Maharashtra government, lawyer AM Singhvi took the court through transcripts of Goswami’s TV broadcast where the controversial anchor allegedly made communal statements. According to Livelaw, Singhvi asked, “How can the High Court stay the entire investigation?”
Singhvi said that Arnab Goswami will not be arrested if the investigation is revived, adding that the Republic TV founder would be given 48 hours notice for appearing for interrogation. He said that the message must not ‘go that some people are above the law.’
Harish Salve, who was representing Goswami, said that another FIR was filed against the entire editorial team of the Republic Media Network. This prompted Chief Justice of India Bobde to bluntly ask Salve to give assurance for responsible coverage on behalf of Goswami.
CJI Bobde, according to Livelaw, said, “As a court, our important concern is peace and harmony in the society.” The CJI said that whilst the top court accepted the importance of freedom of the press, it cannot mean that a media person should not be asked questions.
CJI to Salve (Arnab Goswami’s lawyer ) : You can be a little old-fashioned with reporting. Frankly speaking, I cannot stand it. This has never been the level of our public discourse.#RepublicTV #SupremeCourt #ArnabGoswami @republic
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) October 26, 2020
“There has to be responsibility in reporting. There are some areas one has to tread with caution. You can be a little old-fashioned with reporting. Frankly speaking, I cannot stand it. This has never been the level of our public discourse,” CJI Bobde told Goswami’s lawyer.
In reference to Goswami routinely contacting the top court for relief, CJI Bobde said, “Every day we have one or the other case coming up.”
CJI Bobde asked Salve to place it on an affidavit promising the future course of actions by Goswami. He also asked the Maharashtra government to prepare a list of FIRs filed against Goswami in various cases. The matter will now come up for hearing after two weeks.
Salve, according to the Bar and Bench website said, “We understand that the Freedom of Speech comes with responsibility. Society is fragile and there must be responsibility. But don’t take this FIR on face value.”
Salve: We understand that the Freedom of Speech comes with responsibility.
The society is fragile and there must be responsibility.
— Bar & Bench (@barandbench) October 26, 2020
In a huge interim relief to Arnab Goswami, the Bombay High Court in June this year had stayed all FIRs filed against the Republic TV founder for using his broadcast to cause communal disharmony. This had come weeks after the controversial anchor faced massive criticism from FIR actress Kavita Kaushik, Mulk director Anubhav Sinha and Saif Ali Khan’s former co-star Kubbra Sait.
However, in another case, the Bombay High Court last week had come down heavily on Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV for its media trial in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case. Mincing no words, the Bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice GS Kulkarni had warned the TV channel to not cross its boundary.