The Supreme Court on Wednesday is hearing a petition filed by Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami against the Bombay High Court's rejection of interim bail. Though the hearing in the case is not yet over, the bench consisting of Justices Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee made some strong remarks before they took a break for lunch. Justice Chandrachud made it clear that the bench was not pleased with High Courts rejecting bail, when the person in custody had a right to bail.
“We are travelling through the path of destruction of liberty. You may not like his (Arnab) ideology. Left to myself, I will not watch his channel. But a citizen is sent to jail, if High Courts don't grant bail, we have to send a strong message,” Justice Chandrachud observed.
He added that these cases are then sent to the Supreme Court, which is already burdened with a lot of workload. “We must send a message today to the High Courts as well. Please exercise your jurisdiction to uphold personal liberty. Case after case, High Courts are denying personal liberty,” Justice Chandrachud said.
Weighing upon the FIR filed in Anvay Naik’s suicide in 2018, the judge told senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing for the Maharashtra government, “Assuming the FIR is the gospel truth and that is a matter of investigation, but is not paying up money abetment to suicide? It will be a travesty of justice if bail is not granted while FIR is pending.”
Justice Chandrachud also went on to ask if a man dying by suicide due to financial stress was enough to make a case of abetment to suicide against those who owed the person money. “There has to be active incitement and encouragement. If money is owed to a person, is that a case of abetment to suicide?” Justice Chandrachud asked Kapil Sibal.
The Supreme Court also questioned Kapil Sibal for the need for custodial interrogation of the news anchor in an abetment to suicide case.
“I don’t even watch his (Arnab’s) channel. I never turn it on,” Justice Chandrachud said, however adding, “Governments must ignore all this. This is not the basis on which elections are fought.”
The court also observed, “Technicality cannot be a ground to deny someone personal liberty. This is not a case of terrorism.”