Court rejects police’s plea for Arnab’s custody, sends him in judicial remand

PTI, Nov 5, 2020, 8:34 AM IST

Mumbai: 4 A court at Alibaug in Maharashtra’s Raigad district on Wednesday evening remanded Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and two other accused in judicial custody till November 18 in a 2018 abetment to suicide case.

The police had sought Goswami’s custody for 14 days, but the court held that custodial interrogation was not required.

After the court remanded Goswami in judicial custody, his lawyers Aabad Ponda and Gaurav Parkar filed an application seeking bail. “The court asked the police to file their reply and posted it for hearing tomorrow,” advocate Ponda said.

Goswami would be kept at a police station for the night as the proceedings went on till late, he added.

Goswami was arrested this morning from his Lower Parel residence in Mumbai and taken to Alibaug police station.

He has been booked under section 306 (abetment of suicide) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC in connection with the suicide of architect-interior designer Anvay Naik and Naik”s mother over alleged non-payment of dues by Republic TV in 2018.

Goswami was produced in the afternoon before the Alibaug Magistrate”s court, where he and his lawyer Gaurav Parkar alleged that Goswami was assaulted by the police.

The court then directed Goswami to be taken for medical check-up at the civil hospital. He was brought back to court later in the evening.

The court, after perusing the medical report, noted in the order that the allegations of physical assault were incorrect and there were only minor scratches on the accused”s hand.

The Alibaug police sought 14 days’ custody of Goswami for interrogation.

Besides Goswami, the other two arrested accused in the case are Feroze Mohammed Shaikh and Nitesh Sarda. They were also produced in court and remanded to judicial custody till November 18.

“The probe in the case after it was reopened began on October 15 during which the statements of the deceased person Anvay Naik”s wife and daughter were recorded before a magistrate,” the police said in its remand application.

Notices were issued to 28 persons, and statements of 17 of them, including Naik”s accountant and employees of his firm, have been recorded by the police, it said.

“We have received fresh and positive information from these statements which warrants further probe,” the police said.

Naik, in his purported suicide note, specifically mentioned the names of Goswami and the other two accused, the police said, adding that the note had been sent to handwriting experts in Pune and a report was awaited. Advocate Ponda opposed the remand plea and said there is a vendetta against Goswami.

“The entire arrest is illegal. He (Goswami) has been arrested based on an investigation which is completely illegal. This is not a case where he should have been picked up in this manner as if he is a hardened criminal,” Ponda argued.

A closure report had been filed in this case and hence the delayed police action smacks of malafide, he said.

The prosecution argued that Goswami and the other two accused did not cooperate with the probe.

“Goswami is the editor of a television news channel and can influence common people. The statements of employees of the company owned by Goswami that runs the channel need to be recorded. If the accused is released then there is a chance of him influencing these witnesses,” the police said.

“Custodial interrogation of the arrested accused persons is required to verify his and his company”s bank statements, communication between his company and the deceased person,” the police said.

The earlier probe had several missing links, they argued.

But the court did not grant the request for police remand.

Advocate Sushil Patil, lawyer of co-accused Sarda, told reporters that the court observed in its order that the police had not taken the court”s permission before reopening the case.

Goswami, on November 2, filed a petition in the Bombay High Court seeking to quash the FIR in the case. It will be heard by a division bench of Justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik on Thursday.

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