Republic TV promoter Arnab Goswami was sent by a court in Maharashtra yesterday to 14 days of judicial custody. Mr Goswami was arrested in the early hours of Wednesday from his home in Mumbai in connection with the suicide of an architect, Anvay Naik, and his mother in 2018. The case was closed under the previous government but was reopened recently after appeals from the architect's family.
A court in Alibaug rejected the police's demand for 14-day custody but also dismissed Mr Goswami's charge that he had been physically assaulted while being arrested, an allegation he made several times in the day.
A 13-minute video shot during the arrest shows policemen pleading with the editor to cooperate as he says he has been assaulted. Eventually the policemen drag him away.
The Bombay High Court will today hear Mr Goswami's petition to strike off the case against him. He is also expected to file for bail, a move the police and Mr Naik's family will oppose. Mr. Goswami was taken to jail last night after an unusually long hearing of nearly six hours that went on almost till midnight.
Mr Naik's family will also file a petition in the Bombay High Court for its intervention.
Mr Goswami's lawyers described the refusal of police custody as a win. In a statement, Republic TV said, "Arnab Goswami's arrest has been made part of a larger vindictive exercise against an independent journalist & news network. This is to bring to light real facts on unfounded allegations in a closed case based on which Arnab Goswami was assaulted and arrested."
Earlier in the day, almost the entire union cabinet came out in support of Mr. Goswami alleging that his arrest was a reminder of the Emergency and that it was an assault on press freedom. Both the Editors Guild of India and News Broadcasters Association came out against the arrest but the Mumbai based TVJA (Television Journalists Association) said that the case was a personal matter and had nothing to do with journalism.
While appealing to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray that state power should not be used against journalists for vendetta, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) asserted that it does not endorse Mr Goswami's brand of journalism.
Anvay Naik's family members alleged that they had been threatened and warned against going to the police and that the arrest was finally a step towards justice for them. They also claimed that the editor had used his influence to block a proper investigation into the suicide even though his name was the first one among three names mentioned in the suicide note left behind by the architect.
"We have been demanding his arrest for a long time; I am happy Maharashtra Police has finally taken this first step. We want a fair investigation," Anvay Naik wife, Akshata Naik said on Wednesday.
"Why was Arnab given privilege as an accused? Is he some god? His statement was recorded. We met former Mumbai police commissioner Sanjay Barve at that time. We met Anil Paraskar, officer in Raigad, several times and also wrote to PMO India. But no one helped us," Anvay Naik's daughter Adnya Naik said.
Referring to Mr Goswami's calls for arrests over Sushant Singh Rajput's death, Akshata Naik said, "Arnab Goswami kept saying arrests should be made in Sushant Singh Rajput suicide case where there was no suicide note. My husband left behind a suicide note naming Arnab and two others but no arrests were made. How is this fair?"