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ARNAB GOSWAMI’S GRAND REOPENING

Aranb Goswami - Sana Saeed

INTRODUCTION

The nation now wants to know a lot of things about Arnab Goswami. Apart from spreading hate speech and being in the eye of the masses because of stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra, there is one more that brought into limelight and that is the “2018 abetment to suicide case”. Mr. Goswami was born in the north-eastern state of Assam. The son of an army officer, he graduated from Delhi University and then earned a scholarship for a master’s program at Oxford University.

He started his career at The Telegraph newspaper in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), before joining NDTV, which was among the first private news channels in India. Former colleagues remember him as a balanced presenter who steered dignified debates

He is, without a doubt India’s most controversial TV anchor. Mr. Goswami’s manner of coverage is louder and more aggressive than most of the TV anchors in India and his tone is often polarising, mostly eyeing into India’s religious fault lines.

THE SUICIDE CASE ( 2018)

The Raigad police arrested Arnab Goswami along with Firoz Shaikh and Nitesh Sharda, but why? What happened in 2018 and was it legal to reopen the case after closing it once in 2018?

Architect Amay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik were found dead on May 5, 2018, in their farmhouse in Maharashtra’s Raigad district. A suicide note was found in which names like Arnab Goswami, Feroz Sheikh, and Mr. Nitesh Sarda glistened indicating that the Concorde Designs Pvt Ltd (in which Amay and Kumud were directors)  money is stuck with the listed names. However, Republic TV had said in a subsequent statement that the allegations and videos on social media were “unfounded”, adding that the case against ARG Outlier Media Pvt. Limited, Republic’s parent company

On April 16, 2018, the Alibaug police submitted an “A” summary report- meaning the investigation did not throw up sufficient evidence in the court and the case was close, standing that no evidence was found against Goswami, Sheikh, and Sarda.

Despite the suicide note, Akshata (wife of Anvay) said that they had not even been informed by the police about the closure report in the case. She also added that a death report was prepared even before Anvay and Kumud were pronounced dead by the doctor.

Arnab Goswami and the Congress have been at loggerheads since he was booked for making inflammatory comments against the party’s president Sonia Gandhi. Mr. Goswami has also blamed Congress for the attack on Mumbai several times. In June, the Mumbai Police summoned Goswami for another round of interrogation when a complaint was filed against him in April for allegedly creating communal disturbance through his TV show over the gathering of migrant workers in Mumbai’s Bandra. The complainant had alleged that Goswami tried to spread hatred against Muslims.

The Supreme Court had, in May, quashed the multiple FIRs against Goswami, except for the one filed against him for a debate on the Palghar incident.

WHAT IS AN “A” SUMMARY REPORT?

When a case is closed under ‘A’ summary, the Magistrate classifies the case as genuine but not “detected” in other words the case was closed because of insufficient evidence. A senior advocate explained that there are two categories under an “A” summary report and that

  • Where the culprit is unknown and second
  • Where the culprit is known but there is a lack of evidence

So basically under “A” summary if the police get some additional evidence, nobody has the right to stop the police from further investigation. In addition to that, section 173 (8) of the CR.P.C. permits the police for further investigation and allow the report to be sent to the magistrate.

CAN ARNAB GOSWAMI BE HELD FOR ABETMENT OF SUICIDE?

No matter what Mr. Goswami does in spreading hate speech he cannot be held for abetment of suicide under section 306 of IPC. Mere allegations do not prove that he was responsible for it.

The Hon’ble Karnataka High Court in October 2019 in Noushad Ahmed Vs. State while granting an accused an anticipatory bail charged under section 306 observed that “Mere allegations in death note that the petitioner and other are responsible for his death, would not be sufficient to come to the conclusion that the petitioner has committed the said offense unless the overt acts and conduct of the accused are stated, in order to prove the case of the prosecution and that is sufficient to drive the person to commit suicide”.

In Chitresh Kumar Chopra vs. State(Govt. Of NCT of Delhi), 2009 (11) SCALE 24 the Hon’ble Apex Court held that there should be an intention to provoke, incite or encourage the doing of an act by the latter. In order to convict a person under Section 306 IPC, there has to be a clear mens rea to commit the offense. It also requires an active act or direct act that led the deceased to commit suicide.

The Supreme Court, in numerous rulings on abetment to suicide, has held that there must be a clear case of instigation by direct or indirect acts. Mere blaming someone by the deceased will not count as an abetment under 306 of the IPC. Here, his intention is the key,” advocate Aabad Ponda told the Times of India with respect to a different case. “It is not as innocuous as it seems. The test is to see whether the instigation, if any, is such that it can drive a prudent person to commit suicide, or if the note is left by an emotionally troubled mind.”

CAN MR. GOSWAMI TAKE THE DEFENCE OF DOUBLE JEOPARDY?

Article 20 of the constitution- ‘inter-alia’ freedom against double jeopardy. The provision apotheosizes the principle that a person cannot be tried twice for the same offense by an equally competent court.

In India, partial protection against double jeopardy (Autrefois convict- previously convicted) is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 20(3) of the constitution of India.

It does not extend to “autrefois acquit” and so if a person is acquitted of a crime can be retried. The protection against autrefois acquit is a statutory right and not a fundamental right in India. Thus Mr. Arnab cannot take the defense of double jeopardy as it is applicable on conviction and in his case even the trial did not begin in 2018, it was still on the stage of the investigation.

Author(s) Name: Sana Saeed (Aligarh Muslim University)

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  • Reference(s):
  • The 2018 case against Arnab Goswami: Why was it reopened and what does it say? Newslaundary, 8 November,2020
  • Arnab arrest: Can Police Reopen Cases Closed Under “A” Summary? The Quint, 5 November, 2020
  • Arnab Goswami: India’s most loved and loathed TV anchor, BBC News