Alibaug court reserves order on cops’ plea for Arnab’s custody

A sessions court in Raigad district of Maharashtra on Tuesday reserved its decision on the police’s plea challenging a magistrate’s order denying them custody of Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and two others in an abetment of suicide case.
Additional Sessions Judge at Alibaug, R G Malashetti said the court would pass the order on the revision application filed by local police on November 12.
It would also hear bail appllications of Goswami and co-accused Feroze Shaikh and Nitish Sarda on the same day, the court said.
Goswami was arrested on November 4 from his residence in Mumbai and taken to Alibaug in the case related to the 2018 suicide of interior designer Anvay Naik and Naik’s mother.
He and the other two accused were produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate who refused police’s request for custody, and sent them in judicial remand till November 18 instead.
The police have challenged the order, saying they need the accused’ custody for interrogation.
The high-profile TV journalist is lodged at Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai.
Senior advocate Aabad Ponda, appearing for Goswami, opposed the revision application on Tuesday.
There was only a contractual dispute between Goswami’s company and Naik as the work done by Naik was not satisfactory, the lawyer said, adding that 90% of the payment had been made.
It is alleged that Naik took his own life due to the non-payment of dues by the firms of the three accused.
“This matter is of contractual dispute which should be decided in a civil court, not in a criminal court,” Ponda said.
Goswami had given a statement to the police in 2018 and the police then closed the case, he said.
“In the closure report, the police said there was no nexus between the three accused,” Ponda added.
Goswami is a news anchor and this was not the way to silence him for the things he may have said against the Maharashtra government and police, the lawyer contended.
Special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat argued that interrogation of the three accused was required in view of some fresh material including the suicide note.
“The accused have been charged with driving a person to suicide. There is a specific mention in the suicide note that these three accused are the cause behind him ending his life,” Gharat said.
The prosecutor also said that police custody of the accused was necessary considering the support one of them (Goswami) was getting “from a certain political party”.
Gharat also pointed out the order passed by the Bombay High Court on Monday, refusing to grant interim bail to the accused. The HC had said that the further probe that is being carried out in the case cannot be termed as illegal, he added.
Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, appearing for accused Nitish Sarda, said his client had already given to the police all relevant documents and appeared before them whenever asked, so his custodial interrogation is not required.
“He never went absconding,” Aggarwal said.
Advocate Neha Raut, appearing for Feroze Shaikh, argued that the request made by the complainant (Anvay Naik’s wife Akshata) to reopen the case was unfair.
The police have already been allowed to question the accused persons in jail three hours daily, she pointed out.