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“This Has Never Been The Level of Public Discourse”: CJI Bobde Tells Republic’s Lawyer

While the court accepts the importance of freedom of the press, it cannot mean that a media person should not be asked questions, the CJI observed. 

The Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde on Monday, during a hearing in Supreme Court, gave his opinion on the style of reporting followed by Arnab Goswami, Chief Editor of the Republic TV, Live Law reported. 

“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 Advocate Harish Salve, who was representing Arnab Goswami.

The special leave petition filed by the State of Maharashtra against the June 30 order of the Bombay High Court staying the investigation against Republic was being heard by the apex court. The FIRs were registered in relation to Arnab Goswami’s coverage of Palghar lynching and Bandra migrants gathering for allegedly inciting communal hatred.

While the court accepts the importance of freedom of the press, it cannot mean that a media person should not be asked questions, the CJI observed. 

The Court wanted an assurance of responsibility from his client, the CJI told Adv Salve.

Adv Salve responded saying he agreed with the Court’s views but added that the present FIR is not genuine and not to be taken at face value. He pointed out that even last week another FIR was filed against the entire editorial team of Republic TV.

The hearing was adjourned by the court for two weeks. the top court has asked Goswami to file an affidavit stating what he proposed to do. The Maharashtra government has also been asked to submit a list of FIRs registered against Goswami, Live Law reported.

Appearing for the State of Maharashtra, Senior Advocate Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi took exception to the High Court staying the entire investigation. The police will not arrest Goswami even if the investigation is revived and undertook to serve 48 hours prior notice to Goswami to appear for interrogation, Adv Singhvi told the court.

Some people cannot be treated above the law, Adv Singhvi submitted. CJI Bobde responded saying “some people are targeted with higher intensity”.

“That is the culture these days. Some people need higher protection”, the CJI said.

In two FIRs registered by the Mumbai police alleging that the Goswami incited communal hatred while debating on the incidents of Palghar mob lynching case and the gathering of migrant workers at Bandra railway station in April, the impugned order stayed the investigation. A division bench of Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Riyaz Chagla of Bombay High Court had suspended the investigation after observing “prima facie no case was made out against him”.

 

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