In a massive win for Team Republic, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday suspended all FIRs against Republic Media Network and Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami filed by Mumbai Police over its coverage of the Palghar lynching incident and the gathering of migrant workers at Bandra railway station.
In accordance, all proceedings in the FIRs registered at the NM Joshi Marg and Pydhonie Police stations would remain suspended, and no coercive steps taken. Arnab Goswami and Republic’s Group CFO S Sundaram had been questioned twice each at the NM Joshi Marg Police station in the matter
The High Court said that there was nothing communal in this coverage of the incidents, which it notes as follows:
“While the transcript is long, it is clear that it reported the killing of 2 Hindus. Petitioner had highlighted – the thrust of debate–pet had accused Congress and SG in particular of having a communal. Mindset. When the broadcast is read as a whole, it is not communal. It cannot be said there was any offence of rioting of disruption of harmony between religious groups. Neither statement of Petitioner, nor his conduct can be said to be Deliberate creating hatred- a view may be taken that Petitioners comments were quite sharp – SC observed that offence of defamation cannot be investigated.”
The judgment adds, “Supreme Court has held that India’s freedom can rest safe as long as journalists can speak without threat of reprisal. Our democracy is mature and 70 years old. It cannot be said that mere mention of a hatred may lead to disharmony.”
Arnab Goswami’s statement
After the FIRs were suspended, Arnab Goswami said, “I am extremely grateful to our legal team and personally grateful and forever indebted to India’s foremost lawyer Mr Harish Salve for fighting on our behalf and fighting with everything. I would also like to thank the entire team of Pheonix Legal for staying with me throughout the fight.”
Stating that it was the Congress party and its chief that had lost, Arnab added, “What has also lost is the attempt to use the tactics of the emergency to try and say you can file multiple FIRs against a single journalist, to drag him from one state to the other, to use your police apparatus, to use your government to get the upper hand. You cannot get the upper hand when you are wrong on ethics.” Republic World