Mr. Arnab Goswami, who was arrested Wednesday over an abatement to suicide case by Mumbai Police has been denied bail plea by the Bombay High court, local media reports confirm.
Mr. Goswami, known for his contentious anchoring and aggressive commentary was arrested over a suicide case from 2018 where a studio architect and his mother died from suicide alleging non-payment of fees by Republic TV, a claim both Goswami and his agency deny.
Goswami, 47, is being remanded to custody for the next 14-days as he is being investigated over the abatement to suicide charges he faced following the death of Interior designer Anvay Naik and mother Kumud Naik.
The mother and son duo were found dead at their bungalow in Alibaug, May 2018. Autopsy reports found Mr. Naik died from committing suicide and mother Kumud was found to have been strangulated and did not commit suicide.
Mr. Naik’s wife and daughter have alleged their husband and father has taken the extreme step because of the massive due, and he left a suicide note on the same claiming a massive amount of money due to Goswami among others.
Mr. Goswami’s case has garnered intense media and public scrutiny in India as well as international media, thanks to his impassioned style of anchoring which has fetched him a flurry of loyal and critical followers.
On Sunday as Mr. Goswami was being escorted to the jail in a police van, Republic TV broadcasted the scene where he was seen shouting from inside the van.
“They woke me up at 6 am. They said I will not let you speak to the lawyers. I want to tell the people of the country that my life is under threat,” Goswami said.
Goswami was on his way to the jail from a makeshift COVID-19 testing center where he tested negative. He alleged the van officials attacked him last evening and that his life was in threat.
When the Republic TV owner and Editor-in-Chief were being arrested at his home in Mumbai, on November 3, video footage showed he was being pushed to the van.
Republic TV has alleged Mumbai Police of “manhandling” Mr. Goswami’s family members during the arrest but police have also filed a complaint against the Editor for misbehaving with constables and allegedly assaulting a female officer.
Mumbai Police in recent times has come under increased scrutiny and criticism over the handling of a late Bollywood actor’s sudden demise from suicide.
Mr. Goswami’s arrest comes amid a plethora of reactions for the same. Noted politicians, including some BJP members, have criticized the arrest as an attack on India’s media freedom.
The Editor’s Guild of India has issued a statement on Goswami’s arrest and has urged authorities to treat the Republic TV editor fairly, and to check if the “state power is not used against critical reporting by the media”, the BBC reported.
Several organizations in India and abroad have demanded the immediate release of Mr. Goswami. In New Jersey, members of the Federation of Indian Associations have staged protests for Goswami’s arrest.
What was the suicide case?
In May 2018, interior designer Anvay Naik, along with his mother Kumud Naik, were found dead at their bungalow in Alibaug. The designer reportedly designed Arnab’s studio.
Autopsy reports later confirmed Mr. Naik died from suicide and mother Kumud was strangled to death, which police believe was as a result of Anvay himself killing his mother, Indian Express newspaper reported.
Anvay Naik was found hanging on his home’s first-floor by the caretaker and police discovered a suicide note which said the mother-son duo were forced to take the extreme step because of non-payment of fees from three companies — Arnab Goswami of Republic TV, Feroz Shaikh of IcastX/Skimedia and Niteish Sarda of Smartworks.
The suicide note alleged total dues amounting to 142 lakhs or $1,91,827.33 from the three firms. Mr. Goswami’s Republic TV owed Naik’s company, Concorde Designs Pvt Ltd Rs. 83 lakhs or $1,12,124.45, the suicide note said.
Later the initial case lodged by the local Raigad police was closed because of not enough evidence against the accused. But Anvay Naiks’s daughter Adnya Naik approached Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh with a request to relaunch the case.
“Adnya Naik had complained to me that Alibaug Police had not investigated non-payment of dues from Arnab Goswami’s Republic which drove her entrepreneur father and grandma to suicide in May 2018. I’ve ordered a CID re-investigation of the case,” Anil Deshmukh had tweeted in May.
Mr. Goswami will now be interrogated as per the required law and will be either released or pressed with a chargesheet against over the Rs. 83 lakh due angle.