Arnab Goswami’s arrest in suicide case appears illegal, observes court

The chief judicial magistrate court has observed that the arrest of Arnab Goswami and two others seemed illegal in connection with the suicide of 53-year-old interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik, while rejecting the plea of the prosecution for their custodial interrogation.

In May 2018, almost a year after Republic TV was launched, Naik, and his mother were found dead at their farmhouse in Kavir village of Alibag taluka.

Naik’s wife Akshata, 48, had then registered a complaint. A suicide note was found, police said, in which Naik alleged that he and his mother were forced to end their lives because he was not paid dues amounting to Rs 5.40 crore by Goswami, Shaikh and Sarda.

The Alibag police on Wednesday arrested Goswami, Republic TV’s editor-in-chief, Feroz Shaikh, owner of IcastX/Skimedia, and Nitesh Sarda, owner of Smartwork. The prosecution sought their maximum custody for further investigation. The plea was turned down by chief judicial Magistrate, Alibaug, Raigad – Sunayana S Pingale.

In her order, the judge said, “In view of the objections raised by the defense lawyers and grounds raised by the prosecution to seek police custody, the arrest itself appears illegal. After the careful screening of the document it appears that the connection between the incident which took place at that time, death of two persons, the relation between the deceased and their connection with the accused should have been determined before seeking police custody. Only if this chain of circumstances is intact, the connection of the incident with the accused can be established to seek police custody of the accused.”

The magistrate court raised serious questions on the theory of suicide of Naik’s mother. The court questioned that if the prosecution case is believed to be true there is no reason established for the death of Naik’s mother.

“Even if it is considered that the accused had to pay money to the deceased Anvay Naik and the other contractors were pestering him for payment, he was depressed, the question remains why did his mother Kumud Naik decide to end her life? The prosecution has no satisfactory answer on this issue. The chain of circumstances, between the death of Kumud and Anvay Naik, the reason behind their death and its connection with the accused is not completely established,” reads the order in Marathi.

The court also raised questions on the decision for further investigation. The prosecution has failed to put forth grounds on why the previous investigation is incomplete and what issues remained for further investigation, the court added.

“There is no prima facie intact chain of circumstances to connect the accused with the incident to send the accused to police custody. Hence the police had closed the case for want of evidence. The said closure report has not been challenged or set aside by any higher court and is still in existence. In such circumstances, there are no reasonable grounds to remand the accused to police custody,” reads the court order.

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