The court confirmed its order quashing all but one FIR against Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami over a TV show which was hosted on April 21, in which he questioned the president of Congress, Sonia Gandhi over the lynching of two sadhus and their driver in Maharashtra’s Palghar district but refused his plea for transfer of probe to the CBI. This one FIR is being probed by the Mumbai Police.
The Supreme Court said on Tuesday that India’s freedoms will rest safe as long as journalists can speak truth to power without being chilled by a threat of reprisal and free citizens cannot exist when the news media is chained to adhere to one position.
A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah granted protection to Goswami from any coercive action for three more weeks from today and said that he can approach the competent court for quashing of the FIR after observing that journalistic freedom lies at the core of freedom of speech and expression.
However, the Supreme Court stated that Goswami could approach the High Court to avail of further remedies, and extended the protection from arrest for three more weeks.
The top court had directed that no coercive force or actions should be taken against Arnab Goswami in the new FIR which was lodged by the Mumbai Police, for allegedly hurting religious sentiments while they also pronounced the verdict through video conferencing, that the rights of journalist under Article 19 1A is at a higher level and that India’s freedom of press stays as long as journalists can speak truth to power, but this freedom is not absolute.
Goswami moved to the apex court with an aim to quash the multiple FIRs lodged against him in various states over his statements against Sonia Gandhi which were considered defamatory. In reply to this, even the Maharashtra Government has moved to the apex court accusing Goswami saying that Goswami has been misusing protection granted by the top court and has been browbeating” the police by creating fear psychosis.