NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to quash the FIR lodged by Mumbai police against Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of Republic TV, for allegedly stoking communal tension through his show about the gathering of migrants in Bandra. The court also refused to transfer the investigation of the case to Central Bureau of Investigation.
The bench, comprising justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, held that the right to freedom of expressions of journalists is not absolute.
The court said no other FIRs would be filed against Goswami in respect to the same incident.
Goswami, in his plea, had claimed that the FIR registered by the Mumbai police was "politically motivated" and meant to harass him. He had sought directions for transferring of his cases to a central independent agency such as CBI, claiming that the police was biased against him.
In a separate petition where multiple FIRs had been registered against Goswami for defamatory comments against Congress president Sonia Gandhi in connection with the Palghar lynching incident, the bench extended the protection against coercive actions for three weeks.
The Mumbai police commissioner has been asked to consider the request of Goswami for provision of security at his residence and business establishment in Mumbai.
The two-judge bench in a series of observations in their 56-page judgment held that the exercise of fundamental right is not absolute, “but to allow a journalist to be subjected to multiple complaints and to the pursuit of remedies traversing multiple states and jurisdictions when faced with successive FIRs and complaints bearing the same foundation has a stifling effect on the exercise of that freedom."
They also held that such incidents will “effectively destroy the freedom of the citizen to know of the affairs of governance in the nation and the right of the journalist to ensure an informed society."
“Free citizens cannot exist when the news media is chained to adhere to one position," the court added.