Arnab Goswami matter does not end at grant of bail by Supreme Court

Bad News For Maharashtra Government:

Arnab Goswami, the Editor of Republic TV has been granted bail by the Supreme Court yesterday. That is bad news for the autocratic Government of Maharashtra but there is more bad news. Supreme Court has not disposed off the petition and as per web site of Supreme Court SLP(Crl) No. 005598 – 005598/2020 (Crl.A. No. 000742 – 000742/2020) is still pending. It means a detailed order shall be passed later on. Order of Supreme Court dated 11 November granting bail to Arnab can be read here.

It is good that Supreme Court took notice of the grave error committed by the High Court which is the last sentinel of Constitutional Rights in a State. The Order dated 9th November 2020 passed by Maharashtra (Bombay) High Court is a classic example of how judgment should not be written. As rightly observed by the Supreme Court, in the course of hearing that High Court had time to write 57 pages of judgment on various issues but it did not consider the question of personal liberty even for once. Not once did the High Court asked the police why it arrested Arnab in a two years old case, suddenly. It did not pose the question that Bail is the rule and Jail is an exception. It did not ask for subjective satisfaction of the Investigating Officer recording need to arrest the accused. Worse, even yesterday, the State of Maharashtra could not and did not claim that Arnab was a security threat or that he was a flight risk.

Administrative Action:

Apart from legal directions which will flow from the final judgment in this matter, when final order will be passed, the Supreme Court Collegium, which decides the matter on the administrative side about transfer and posting of judges, must also take notice of situation in High Courts of Bombay and Calcutta (both have not changed the names) where ordinary people are suffering as all are not as resourceful of Arnab Goswami who could hire India’s most expensive lawyer who argued online sitting in London.

Sensitivity of High Court.

Judges must not be awed by local governments nor should they be too friendly with the administration of the State. It has been policy of the Supreme Court to ensure that the Chief Justice of the High Court is not from the same State. It may be high time that some of the senior judges of these High Courts who are found to be insensitive to the issues of common people, may be transferred to some other High Court with an advice to be more sensitive to personal liberty then the hierarchical propriety.

Justice Chandrachud who is hearing the matter is also the member of Supreme Court Collegium, must raise this matter in the next meeting or may request a specific meeting for this purpose and send a clear message that even if judiciary in India is a republic within the Republic of India, it is there to serve people of India and not itself. High Courts have failed to live to these standards.

As regards Arnab, with the scathing oral strictures on Maharashtra Government by Supreme Court, his queen’s gambit has been successful and the whole nation now knows what was happening in Mumbai.

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