Mumbai, November 9: The Bombay high court on Monday refused interim bail to Republic TV’s editor Arnab Goswami, who was arrested by Alibag police in connection with the 2018 abetment to suicide case of 53-year-old interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud.
The division bench comprising justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik rejected Goswami’s plea, saying that no case was made out for the bench to exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction to release the accused on bail, the Hindustan Times reported.
The bench refused interim bail also to two other accused in the case—Firoz Sheikh and Nitish Sarda—primarily stating that there was alternate and effacious remedy available for regular bail under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The Alibag police had arrested Goswami in the morning of November 4, 2020 and remanded him to judicial custody till November 18.
Goswami moved the high court on November 4 itself, claiming his arrest was patently illegal and sought his immediate release from jail by way of interim relief.
Senior advocate Aabad Ponda had argued on Goswami’s behalf that the earlier investigation officer of the case had submitted an A-summary report on April 16, 2019, and the jurisdictional magistrate had closed the case by accepting the summary report.
Ponda had submitted that the “dead” case could not been reopened and re-investigated without a judicial order. Thus, he claimed, the arrest was patently illegal and the Republic TV editor was entitled to be forthwith released on bail by way of an interim measure.
The state government, on the other hand, contended that unlike B and C summaries, an A-summary is not a closure report, and therefore no permission of the magistrate was required to undertake further investigation in the case.
Senior advocate Amit Desai, who represented the government, said A-summary indicates that the allegations made in the complaint are true, but no one can be prosecuted for want of adequate evidence. B-summary means the allegations are found to be false, whereas C-summary indicates that no offence is disclosed.
Thus, Desai claimed, A-summary reflects an incomplete investigation and therefore cannot be construed a closure report. Permission of the judicial magistrate was therefore not required to carry further investigation in the case.
In this backdrop, he said, the new investigative officer has rightly informed the jurisdictional magistrate on October 15, 2020 that he has started further investigation, as permitted under Section 173(8) of the Criminal Procedure Code, and started further investigation. Desai claimed there was nothing wrong in the entire process to warrant immediate release of the Republic TV’s editor.
He strenuously opposed the interim prayer for forthwith releasing Goswami on bail. He argued that the habeas corpus petition itself was not maintainable and therefore there was no question on granting him any interim relief.
The senior advocate said even if it is assumed that the arrest was illegal, detention was authorised by the chief judicial magistrate at Alibag who remanded Goswami and two others arrested with him, Firoz Sheikh and Nitish Sarda, to judicial custody, and no habeas corpus petition could strike down a judicial order.
Anvay Naik, 53, died by suicide at his residence at Kaavir village in Alibag tehsil on May 5, 2018. His mother, Kumud, too, was found dead at their home.
His wife Akshata had lodged a complaint with the police alleging that her husband was forced to take the drastic step as he was under tremendous mental stress because of non-payment of dues collectively amounting to Rs5.40 crore by Goswami and two others.
She added that Naik was the managing director of Concorde Designs Private Limited, which rendered services for Republic TV. Along with Republic, Naik was owned by two other companies namely Smartworks and IcastX/Skimedia.
On the basis of Akshata’s complaint, the Alibag police had registered an offence booking Goswami, Feroz Shaikh of IcastX/Skimedia and Nitish Sarda of Smartworks for abetting the suicides of her husband and mother-in-law. In his suicide note, Naik had alleged that Goswami owed him ₹83 lakh, Sarda ₹55 lakh and Shaikh ₹4 crore.