Arnab Goswami Case : Supreme Court says criminal law should not become tool for selective harassment of citizens

New Delhi: The Supreme Court had released Republic TV Founder Editor Arnab Goswami on interim bail protection before Diwali in the case of alleged abetment of suicide of interior designer Anvay Naik. However, the Supreme Court has now pronounced a detailed reasoning behind its earlier order. The Supreme Court has said in its detailed order that “criminal law should not should not become a tool for selective harassment of citizens.”
The judgment was pronounced by a Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee on Friday (November 27). The bench noted that the interim orders shall remain in operation till further proceedings and it will be open to the parties to peruse further remedy.
The bench also elaborated on the importance of human liberty and the role of courts. The case of Goswami was that he had been targeted because his opinions on television are palatable to the authority. In this context the Supreme Court said, “Whether the appellant has established a case for quashing the FIR is something on which the High Court will take a final view when the proceedings are listed before it, but we are clearly of the view that in failing to make even a prima facie evaluation of the FIR, the High Court abdicated its constitutional duty and function as a protector of liberty.”
Stating that “Deprivation of Liberty for a single day is a day too many… ” the Supreme Court said, “High Court did have the power to protect the citizens by interim order in the petition invoking Article 226. Courts must be alive to the need to safeguard the public interest in ensuring that the due enforcement of criminal law is not obstructed. The fair investigation of crime is an aid to it. Equally it is the duty of courts across the spectrum – the district judiciary, the High Courts and the Supreme Court – to ensure that the criminal law does not become a weapon for the selective harassment of citizens. Courts should be alive to both ends of the spectrum – the need to ensure the proper enforcement of criminal law on the one hand and the need, on the other, of ensuring that the law does not become a ruse for targeted harassment.”
The bench stated that our courts must ensure that they continue to remain the first line of defence against the deprivation of the liberty of citizens. “The consequences for those who suffer incarceration are serious. Common citizens without the means or resources to move the High Courts or this Court languish as undertrials. Courts must be alive to the situation as it prevails on the ground – in the jails and police stations where human dignity has no protector…. The remedy of bail is a solemn expression of humaneness in the justice system. We have given expression to our anguish in the case where the citizen has approached the Court”, Supreme Court has stated in its judgment.
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