11 Nov 2020 7:48 AM GMT
A vacation bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee of the Supreme Court is currently hearing the petition filed by Republic TV anchor Arnab Goswami challenging the November 9 order of the Bombay High Court which denied him interim bail in the Anvay Naik abetment to suicide case.During the hearing, Justice Chandrachud, wondering if the offence of abetment to suicide can...
A vacation bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee of the Supreme Court is currently hearing the petition filed by Republic TV anchor Arnab Goswami challenging the November 9 order of the Bombay High Court which denied him interim bail in the Anvay Naik abetment to suicide case.
During the hearing, Justice Chandrachud, wondering if the offence of abetment to suicide can be invoked for mere non-payment of money, made strong oral observations against the custody of Goswami and the denial of interim relief by the High Court.
"To make out a case of abetment, there has to be active incitement and encouragement. If money is owed to a person, is that a case of abetment to suicide? A owes money to B. B due to financial stress commit suicide. Will it attract offence under section 306 IPC? We are dealing with personal liberty here and because he was owed money, Naik committed suicide due to financial stress. Is this a case for custodial interrogation?", Justice Chandrachud observed.
Not stopping there, Justice Chandrachud even remarked: "it will be a travesty of justice if bail is not granted while FIR is pending".
"If we as a constitutional court do not lay down law and protect liberty then who will?", he asked.
High Court abdicated jurisdiction
Justice Chandrachud also expressed disappointment that the High Court failed to exercise its jurisdiction to protect the personal liberty of a citizen.
The High Court did not deal with the aspect if the allegations constituted the offence of abetment to suicide under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code. But the HC "writes tones and tones of pages on why habeas is not maintainable even after that prayer was given up", Justice Chandrachud remarked.
"If this court does not interfere today, we are travelling on the path of destruction. Forget this man(Goswami). You may not like his ideology. Left to myself, I will not watch his channel.
Keep aside everything. If this is what our state governments are going to do to people who are to be nailed, then the Supreme Court has to intervene. There has to be a message to HCs- Please exercise your jurisdiction to uphold personal liberty. We are seeing case after case. HCs are failing to exercise jurisdiction. People are in jail for tweets!", Justice Chandrachud remarked.
The judge also referred to a recent case where the SC stayed the summons issued by the West Bengal police to a woman in Delhi to appear in Kolkata for tweeting against the state government.
"Our democracy is extraordinarily strong and resilient. Governments should ignore tweets and move on. This is not the basis on which elections are fought", Justice Chandrachud commented.
"If you don't like a channel then don't watch it", he remarked.
Justice Chandrachud also remarked, "Technicality cannot be a ground to deny someone personal liberty. This is not a case of terrorism".
Our democracy is extraordinarily resilient. Governments must ignore all this. This is not the basis on which elections are fought, says Justice Chandrachud#ArnabGoswami— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) November 11, 2020
Our democracy is extraordinarily resilient. Governments must ignore all this. This is not the basis on which elections are fought, says Justice Chandrachud#ArnabGoswami
Senior Advocate Harish Salve is appearing for Goswami. The State of Maharashtra is represented by Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Amit Desai. Senior Advocate Chander Uday Singh is representing Akshata Naik, the widow of Anvay Naik and the informant in the FIR.
At the time of publication of this report, the bench was on lunch break. The hearing will resume at 2 PM. Live updates from the hearing are available here.