Anvay Naik case: Bombay HC directs magistrate to give copy of charge-sheet to Arnab Goswami

The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Alibaug, has taken cognizance of the charge-sheet filed by Raigad Police against Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and two others accused in the abetment to suicide case.

Senior Advocate Abad Ponda, Goswami’s Advocate, informed the Bombay High Court division bench comprising Justices S.S. Shinde and M.S. Karnik on Wednesday.

Advocate Abad Ponda argued in the petition filed by Goswami seeking to restrain the magistrate from taking cognizance of the charge-sheet. Ponda informed the bench that he got a message that the magistrate has taken cognizance of the charge-sheet.

The Court directed the Magistrate to expedite the grant of copy of the charge-sheet and the case documents on a formal application made by Goswami through his advocate.

The trio has been charged under IPC Sections 306 (abetment to suicide), 109 (punishment for abetment) and 34 (act done by several people in furtherance of common intention). The 1,914-page charge-sheet was filed against all the three accused before a court in Alibaug where the case for alleged abetment to suicide of interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud has been registered.

Goswami had moved the High Court seeking a direction that the magistrate should not take cognizance of the chargesheet. In the application, Goswami placed reliance on the November 27 judgment passed by the Supreme Court which observed that the allegations in the FIR did not prima facie constitute offence of abetment to suicide under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code.

The Court remarked, “Earlier, there was lack of clarity on whether interim bail can be granted in Article 226. Now this landmark judgment has come saying even regular bail can be granted under Art 226. This judgment will guide us.” Goswami was arrested by Raigad Police on November 4 in connection with the case and was remanded to two weeks judicial custody. On November 11, the Supreme Court ordered his release from custody, after the Bombay High Court refused to grant him interim bail.

The charge-sheet relies on the suicide note as the dying declaration in which Naik’s handwriting has been matched with the writing in the suicide note and forensic report showed that he was not under pressure while writing it.

Six statements recorded before a magistrate under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure are also part of the charge-sheet. Such statements can be used as evidence during trial. Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud committed suicide in 2018, allegedly because of non-payment of dues by firms of Goswami and other two accused.

Goswami alleged that the Maharashtra government was pursuing a vendetta against him for his work as a TV journalist. The case, closed for want of evidence in 2019, was reopened in May this year.

The bench has fixed the matter on January 6 for further hearing.

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