Relief to Arnab Goswami as high court suspends FIRs against himUpdated: Jun 30, 2020 23:55 IST
The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday suspended the first information reports (FIRs) filed against the editor in chief of the news channel Republic TV Arnab Goswami. The court said no coercive action should be taken against Goswami till further orders.
On April 22 and May 2, two FIRs were registered against Goswami at NM Joshi Marg and Pydhonie respectively, charging Goswami under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for making allegedly communal comments on his TV show.
The division bench of justices Ujjal Bhuyan and Riyaz Chagla, responding to the writ petition filed by Goswami to quash the two FIRs, said, “Seventy years into our republic we cannot be seen to be skating on thin ice so much so that mere mention of a place of worship will lead to animosity or hatred amongst religious communities causing upheaval and conflagration on the streets. Subscribing to such a view would stifle all legitimate discussions and debates in the public domain.”
Referring to observations made by the Supreme Court in Goswami’s case, the bench said, “India’s freedoms will rest safely as long as journalists can speak to power without being chilled by a threat of reprisal; free citizens cannot exist when the news media is chained to adhere to one position.”
The bench noted there was no evidence to suggest Goswami had tried to cause public disharmony. “We cannot have the spectacle of a Damocles’ sword hanging over the head of a journalist while conducting a public debate,” said the court in its order.
In its statement, Phoenix Legal, which represented Goswami, said, “Both FIRs now stand suspended until Arnab’s petition is disposed of finally. The police cannot take any action concerning them or any coercive steps against Arnab and his colleagues at Republic TV.”