Mumbai Police issue show-cause notice to Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami
Mumbai Police have sent a show-cause notice to Republic TV’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, asking him why a chapter proceeding under section 108 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) should not be initiated against him. The three page notice was issued on October 10.
Sudhir Jambavdekar, assistant commissioner of police (ACP) (Worli division), who has issued the notice, has asked Goswami to remain present before him on Friday. Jambavdekar, a special executive magistrate, confirmed the development, but refused to further comment.
Republic Media Network, in a statement released late on Tuesday night, stated, “In the continuing malicious attempt to muzzle and intimidate Republic Media Network, the Mumbai Police has now issued a show-cause notice against Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami for raising questions in the Palghar lynching case and the shocking mega gathering amidst Covid-19 lockdown in Bandra, Mumbai. The summons as well as the show-cause notice issued to Arnab Goswami reeks of an openly spiteful and deeply motivated witch hunt by the state government of Maharashtra against a free press that holds the political dispensation accountable.”
The statement further read, “The agenda of the Mumbai Police is crystal clear, given the fact that their latest show-cause notice stands in complete violation of the orders of the courts of law. It is in the public domain and well-documented thereof that the honourable Supreme Court of India and honourable Bombay high court, both, passed orders on Arnab Goswami’s broadcast of the Palghar and Bandra incident cases. The legal facts must be reiterated so as to serve proof of the motivated agenda by the state machinery against Republic. The specific facts are as follows: The hon’ble Supreme Court in its judgment dated May 19 held that no other complaint can be initiated in respect of the Palghar broadcast of April 21. The Supreme Court in its order had observed “the need to ensure that the criminal process does not assume the character of a vexatious exercise by the institution of multifarious complaints founded on the same cause in multiple states” and extended protection “against any coercive steps arising out of and in relation to the” FIRs till a legal remedy was sought in the Bombay high court. The hon’ble Bombay high court judgment of June 30 suspended all criminal proceedings in respect to the FIRs registered against Arnab Goswami, based on the Palghar and Bandra news reports. The Bombay high court, staying the two FIRs filed by Mumbai Police against Arnab Goswami observed: “We cannot have the spectacle of a Damocles’ sword hanging over the head of a journalist while conducting a public debate. India is now a mature democracy“, and stated that “no coercive steps shall be taken against the petitioner”. Therefore, the summons and show-cause notice issued by the executive magistrate, who is also the assistant commissioner of police, Mumbai (Worli), has no legal basis and is in contempt of court orders.”
“Republic Media Network officially states that we will leave no stone unturned to take every legal step available to fight the malicious agenda,” the statement concluded.
The notice (of which HT has a copy) refers to the objectionable coverage of two incidents – the lynching of sadhus at Palghar and the gathering of migrants outside Bandra station during lockdown – and stated that Goswani and his channel gave a “communal colour” to the incidents and tried to “incite communal tension between Hindu and Muslims”.
The notice further stated that Goswami’s channel “spreads caste and communal tension”, which can “easily be seen from the extremely abusive, communal and hateful comments from the viewers of videos of the shows on YouTube”.
Goswami has two first information reports (FIRs) registered against him at NM Joshi Marg and Pydhonie police stations in which similar offences have been mentioned for “inciting hatred and communal tension between two religious groups or communities”.
A senior inspector of NM Joshi Marg police station sent a proposal to Jambavdekar, seeking preventive action against Goswami. Acting on the proposal, Jambavdekar initiated the process.
Goswami will have to provide satisfactory reasons on why a preventive action should not be taken against him.
If the ACP does not find Goswami’s response satisfactory, he can initiate chapter proceedings against the latter and the editor-in-chief would have to sign a legal security bond for good behaviour for a year. In case he violates the bond, he would then have to pay penalty Rs10 lakh. He would also have to pledge that he would not indulge in any act of dissemination of seditious matter. Goswami has to produce a person as ‘security’ who would take responsibility of his behaviour for the period mentioned in the bond.