May 19, 2020: The Supreme Court rejected Republic TV’s news anchor Arnab Goswami’s plea to the Supreme Court to transfer the investigations for the cases against him regarding spreading communal hatred from the Maharashtra Police to the CBI.
Goswami had earlier asked for these cases to be quashed, claiming they were a crackdown on journalistic freedoms. In response to this, Justice DY Chandrachud gave a judgement which acknowledged the importance and value of the freedom of the press but also maintained that these freedoms were not “absolute”. Thus, the FIRs were not quashed.
The judges noted that there was clear precedent which allowed the Maharashtra Police to investigate the case, thereby rejecting his plea to transfer the cases to the CBI.
Goswami also has protection from arrest for another three weeks, as stipulated by the judges.
Over the course of the hearings (conducted via video conferencing), Goswami’s advocate Harish Salve alleged that these cases were political arm-twisting, that “one political party [was] targeting a journalist”, and questioned the authenticity and legitimacy of the investigations.
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Salve also noted that since Goswami had “made serious allegations against the local police” in his journalistic programs, they wanted the case to be handled by the CBI.
However the way the Mumbai Police was running the investigation was justified and backed up, Goswami was treated like any other accused.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta concluded that the best solution would be to transfer the case to an independent agency if the judges found that a prima facie offence was made out.