November 4, 2020 was a shocking day in the journalism history when an Indian news anchor Arnab Goswami who is the managing and editor-in-chief of republic media network was arrested by the Mumbai police. He was arrested in connection to the 2018 interior designer’s abetment to suicide case. Apart from Arnab Goswami, two more people were arrested in the connection of the same- Feroz shaikh of IcastX/Skimedia, a media services firm and Nitish sharda of smartwork. It is really important to know the history of the 2018 Anvay naik abetment to suicide case. Was it right to arrest Arnab Goswami and the other two merely because there name was written in the suicide note? Or were they really responsible for the death of the interior designer Anvay naik? Was there any violation of journalistic freedom? To answer all these let’s have a look at some facts and concepts.
ANVAY NAIK ABETMENT TO SUICIDE CASE (2018)
In May 2018, interior designer Anvay naik and his mother Kumodini naik were found dead in their bungalow which is located in Alibaug. They left a suicide note in which the name of three persons i.e. Arnab Goswami, Feroz shaikh and Nitish sharda were written. The victim alleged that they had died because of non-payment of dues by the three accused. In their post-mortem report it was found that Anvay died because of suicide and his mother was strangulated and did not committed suicide. According to the suicide note it was found that the accused owed Rs 83 lacs, Rs 4 crores and Rs 55 lacs respectively. Anvay was in a heavy debt and he was struggling to repay money to contractors. But the accused denied these charges. Due to lack of evidence, the case had to be closed by Raigad police in April 2019. But the case was reopened again because Anvay’s daughter Adnya approached Maharashtra Home minister Anil deshmukh seeking the case to be reopened because according to her the Alibaug police did not investigated properly from Arnab Goswami about the non-payment of dues. On her request, the case was handed to CID for further investigation.
When the case was closed at that time it was found that there is no evidence against Arnab Goswami. No further enquiry was conducted by Maharashtra government. But now how suddenly the Arnab Goswami is arrested? It is to be noted that when Arnab Goswami was charged in 2018 with Anvay naik’s case at that time BJP headed the Maharashtra government. But now Shiv Sena and Congress party are heading the Maharashtra government. It is also to be noted that BJP is a great supporter of Arnab Goswami and in this Goswami’s arrest they have shown their great concern for him. Also in the past few months there have been going a lot of controversies between Arnab Goswami and Maharashtra government. This raises a series of serious questions. Is there any political conspiracy going behind Arnab Goswami’s arrest? Did the BJP government when in power tried to rescue the journalist from the Anvay Naik’s case? Or are the Shiv Sena and Congress trying to put Arnab Goswami behind bars for taking revenge? Many such questions are there but very few of them have answers.
IS ARREST ON THE BASIS OF NAMES WRITTEN IN SUICIDE NOTE CONSIDERED ABETMENT TO SUICIDE?
According to the Punjab and Haryana high court judgment in the case of A.R. MadhavRao andOrs vs. State of Haryana and Anr  the court held that being named in suicide note is not enough to be charged with abetment to suicide. In other words “Merely because a person has been so named in the suicide note one cannot immediately jump to the conclusion that he is an offender under Section 306 IPC”. The court said that for the wrong decision taken by a weak mentality and a foolish person, another man cannot be blamed as having abetted his committing suicide. They clearly stated that there must be intention as well as involvement of the accused to aid and instigate suicide.
So in this Anvay naik case we need to prove that Arnab Goswami intentionally, was actively involved in the aiding and instigation of suicide. But the suicide note does not prove anything as such. The copy of suicide note is as follows:-
“We are committing suicide due to following ... our (Concorde designs pvt ltd) ... money is stuck and following owners of respected companies are not paying our legitimate dues ... 1. Mr. Arnab Goswami - ARG Outlier of Republic TV not paid 83 Lacs for Bombay dyeing studio project... Kindly collect money from them & hold them responsible for our death & pay to creditors.”
The Suicide note as such does not prove that Arnab Goswami and other two men were involved in the abetment to suicide case. To prove a lot of thorough practice by the trial courts and police officials is required such as proving that there was an intention and Goswami’s not clearly paying dues on time led to the Anvay naik to commit suicide.
WAS THERE ANY CURTAILMENT OF JOURNALISTIC FREEDOM?
The Anvay naik abetment to suicide case was in Arnab Goswami’s personal capacity. It has no link with its journalism. The dues to be paid by Arnab Goswami were his personal expenses. No journalism aspect can be seen in relationship between Arnab Goswami and Anvay naik abetment to suicide case. Also after the arrest of Arnab Goswami, a divide in media bodies was also seen. On the one hand in the opinion of National broadcasters association and the Editors Guild of India the manner of arrest of Arnab Goswami was wrong, while on the other hand in the opinion of Marathi Patrakar Parishad have refused to condemn Arnab Goswami's arrest. Here is the statement released by the action committee against attack on journalists and Marathi Patrakar Parishad:-
"We can't condemn the arrest of Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami as this is his personal matter which is nothing to do with journalism. We don't consider Arnab's arrest as attack on 4th pillar of democracy [sic]”
So this clearly implies that there was no violation of Fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression.
WHY IN JAIL, WHEN HE IS NOT PROVEN GUILTY
Abetment to suicide under section 309 of IPC is a criminal offence. The basic principle of criminal law is that “A person is innocent until proven guilty”. So keeping in mind this basic principle why Arnab has been detained. He haven’t been proven guilty yet but still in the jail. Going against the basic principle of criminal law, it casts a serious doubt whether our law is working in the given condition or not.
BOMBAY HIGH COURT ORDER ON INTERIM BAIL
After Arnab Goswami was and the other two were sent in judicial custody on November 4, a bail plea was filed by him which was rejected by the Bombay high court. The Bombay high court stated that:-
“No case is made out for release of the petitioner under extraordinary jurisdiction," said the HC bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik. "In our opinion, the petitioner (Arnab) has an alternate and efficacious remedy under section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to apply for regular bail. At the time of concluding the hearing of applications, we had made it clear that if the petitioner, if so advised, applies for regular bail under section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure before the concerned court, then we have directed the court to decide the said application within four days of filing of the same," 
In my opinion this is wrong because if we take the basic principle of criminal law as discussed above, then he has the whole right to be granted bail. Agreed that victim has their own rights but we can’t deny that even accused has some rights. Now Arnab Goswami has moved to Supreme Court challenging the Bombay high court order.
A wait is therefore for the Supreme Court pronouncement in this regard. But one thing that needs to be kept in mind is that “JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED”. At this time we cannot decide who is wrong and who is right. But immediate order and enquiry is needed in this regard. Suppose Arnab Goswami and the other two men are found not guilty in 2018 abetment to suicide case, and then does this will not lead to Defamation. In my opinion, an appeal to the higher authorities is that they take the necessary action as soon as possible so that no one is denied justice.