This piece discusses about the controversy and issues around the case of the infamous "Republic-TV" anchor Arnab Goswami. He was arrested by the Mumbai Police on abetment to suicide charges. This piece discusses about Supreme Court's quick intervention in his case, when similar cases have been ignored by the same court for long.
Mr. Arnab Goswami is a prime-time anchor on the Republic TV channel. The media group is widely considered as a supporter of the ruling right-wing BJP, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was arrested on abetment to suicide charges of Anvay Naik, who mentioned in his suicide note that Mr.Goswami owed him unpaid bills amounting to ₹ 83 lakh. He was remanded to a judicial custody instead of a police one. In his case because of cover of law, the law recommends to go to Session Court for bail or discharge and then move to High Court if unsuccessful. However, he directly moved a writ petition for habeas corpus before the Bombay High Court. The situation became more murky when the High Court decided to hear his case for five hours on a holiday. The case was contorted further when he also moved to Supreme Court and his case was listed for hearing within two days. The case was heard for the whole day and by the evening he was set free. Greater than the controversy about the decision, it is the great contrast between the pace of this case to the other similar cases that raises serious allegations of bias against the courts. The same swiftness is nowhere to be seen in other cases which involve "large scale and serious violations of fundamental freedoms". A very important question is then asked
"Has the Court done the one thing which a separate and equal judicial arm never does, and that is to cease being the counter-majoritarian check to a powerful executive? Has the Court abandoned its role of judicial review over acts of government, reducing itself to an arbiter of private disputes?"
A very interesting historical statement to take into notice because of the current status quo is when in the year 1993 the then chief Justice of India M.N. Venkatachaliah was asked during his swearing ceremony by then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao said that he looked forward to a cordial relationship between the Court and the government. The PM received a classical reply to this:
“Mr. Prime Minister, the relationship between us has to be correct, not cordial. Cordiality between court and government has no place in our constitutional scheme of checks and balances.”
Several important cases and petitions like "Citizenship (Amendment) Act, preventive detentions in Kashmir, the challenge to the dilution of Article 370, the appeal against the gag order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court preventing the reporting of the first information report about land grabbing by those with proximity to high places haven't been listed for months. In absence of any judgement from the Court it is the writ of the executive that barks the loudest. The Courts need to understand that in addition to the decision, it is also the context, the way it is said and even the silence of the courts that matter. The balance between the power and public needs to be maintained and the judiciary has to actively take up it's role again.
Finally, I would extend my full support and hope, to what is said below:
Extend the grace of your early hearing to Varavara Rao, poet, aged 80, suffering neurological and urological health issues. To Sudha Bharadwaj, aged 59, civil liberties defender, suffering hypertension, heart disease, diabetes. They have been incarcerated from August 2018. To Siddique Kappan, the journalist from Kerala detained on his way to Hathras in October this year. Take heed of the pitiable plight of Stan Swamy, activist, aged 83, suffering abdominal pain and multiple falls in jail; he is unable to hold a glass because of Parkinson’s disease, his plea to use a sipper/straw in jail has been adjourned by three weeks to November 26. Let their cases too be posted emergently before the same Bench — which so instantly gave relief of personal liberty to Mr. Goswami — and let them be judged according to law. And then lead us on the path of constitutional purity so that our Republic may prosper.