Arnab's arrest appears to be prima facie 'illegal': Court

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Mumbai, Nov 5 (PTI) A court at Alibaug in Maharashtra while refusing to remand Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami in police custody in a 2018 abetment to suicide case observed that the arrest of Goswami and two other accused 'appears to be prima facie illegal'.

Chief Judicial Magistrate Sunaina Pingle after perusal of the case diary and other relevant documents on Wednesday noted that the prosecution failed to prima facie establish a link between the deceased and the accused persons.

The magistrate in a late Wednesday night order remanded Goswami and two other accused in judicial custody till November 18 in the case of suicide of interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother over alleged non-payment of dues by companies of the accused persons.

'Taking into consideration the reasons behind the arrest of the accused persons and the arguments put forth by the accused persons, the arrest appears to be prima facie illegal,' the court said.

The magistrate noted that the chain of circumstances, the reason behind the deaths of Anvay Naik and his mother Kumodini Naik and its connection with the accused persons are not established by the prosecution.

'There is no cogent evidence submitted that warrants this court to remand the arrested accused to police custody,' the court said.

A team of Raigad police picked up Goswami (47) from his residence at Lower Parel in Mumbai on Wednesday morning.

Goswami and the two other accused -Feroze Shaikh and Nitesh Sarda - were later produced before magistrate Pingle in Raigad's Alibaug town, around 90 km from Mumbai, and were remanded in judicial custody till November 18.

The court ruling came shortly after 11 pm.

The magistrate in the order noted that if the police case is to be accepted that Anvay Naik took the drastic step of committing suicide due to non-payment of dues by Goswami and the two other accused, then the question arises as to why his (Anvay Naik's) mother Kumodini Naik committed suicide.

'Did she (Kumodini) die by suicide? There is no clear answer to this by the prosecution. The police have been unable to establish a link between the deaths of Kumodini Naik and Anvay Naik and the three arrested accused,' the court said.

While refusing to remand the three accused in police custody, the court also noted that the police have not been able to specifically point out the so-called lacunae in the probe done by the previous police team in 2018 in the case.

The magistrate in the order also said the case was investigated by the police in 2018 and an 'A' summary report seeking closure of the case was submitted before the court concerned in 2019.

'The said closure report was accepted by the magistrate in 2019. Since then neither the prosecution nor the complainant challenged the closure report in the sessions court or High Court,' the court said.

The court further said the Alibaug police did not seek the magistrate's permission before reopening the case.

'The investigating officer on October 15, 2020 only submitted a report to the magistrate informing that certain fresh material has come to the fore in the case. There is no record to show that the magistrate permitted reopening of the case,' the court said. PTI AVI SP GK GK