Accused ignored Anvay Naik's suicide threat: charge sheet

·3-min read

(Eds: adding details of plea in HC, BJP reaction) Mumbai, Dec 5 (PTI) The charge sheet filed against Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and two others in a 2018 abetment of suicide case claims that they did not heed interior designer Anvay Naik's threat to end his life if his dues were not paid.

In a related development, Goswami again moved the Bombay High Court on Saturday, seeking a direction to the lower court not to take cognisance of the charge sheet.

The charge sheet, filed by the police at Alibaug sessions court in neighbouring Raigad district on Friday, also claimed that Naik, under stress due to non-payment of dues, killed his mother Kumud before hanging himself.

Besides Goswami, the other two accused who are named in the charge sheet are Firoze Sheikh and Nitish Sarda.

'The victim (Naik) had told them (accused) that he would commit suicide if they don't pay his dues. However, the accused ignored his threat and told him to do whatever he wants,' the charge sheet said.

'The accused didn't pay his dues, which caused mental stress to Naik. He first strangulated his mother, thinking that she might land in trouble as she was also a partner in his business,' it said.

Naik then wrote a suicide note and hanged himself, the charge sheet added. Police said that they have relied on the purported suicide note as the 'dying declaration'.

Naik's handwriting has been matched with the writing in the suicide note, police said.

The firms of Goswami, Sheikh and Sarda allegedly owed Naik's company Concorde Designs Pvt Ltd Rs 83 lakh, Rs four crore and Rs 55 lakh, respectively.

The sessions court is expected to take cognisance of the charge sheet on December 16, said Rahul Agarwal, advocate for one of the accused.

The police have invoked IPC sections 306 (abetment to suicide) and 109 (punishment for abetment) in the charge sheet that runs into 1,914 pages.

On Saturday, Goswami moved the Bombay High Court seeking a direction to the Alibaug court not to take cognizance of the charge sheet.

He alleged that the police filed it knowing fully well that he had filed an application in the high court seeking a stay to the filing of charge sheet only on Thursday.

In May this year, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had announced that he had ordered a fresh probe in the case -- closed by the police earlier -- following a complaint by Adnya Naik, Anvay Naik's daughter.

Goswami, Sheikh and Sarda were arrested by Alibaug police on November 4, but they got bail from the Supreme Court on November 11.

In his plea filed in the HC on Thursday, Goswami also sought transfer of the probe to the CBI or other independent agency. He accused the Maharashtra government of pursuing vendetta against him because of his work as a TV journalist.

BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, meanwhile, questioned the Shiv-Sena-NCP-Congress government's decision to file a charge sheet despite the Supreme Court's observations while granting bail to Goswami and others.

'Isn't this a mockery of Supreme Court's judgment? Are they again trying to suppress personal liberty?' he asked. PTI AVI NP ND KRK KRK