New Delhi: The Supreme Court has given priority to at least six petitions filed by Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami in the last nine months, while many citizens languish in jails waiting for weeks and months to get a hearing. Showing how efficient the apex court could be, it heard and disposed off most of Goswami’s petitions within a week, or in some cases the next day.
Goswami moved the Supreme Court on April 23, 2020, challenging multiple FIRs for his alleged comments against Congress president Sonia Gandhi on his channel. The case was listed on the next day and disposed off. In this case, a complaint was filed against the Republic TV founder after he accused Gandhi of orchestrating the Palghar lynching in Maharashtra. However, the bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud granted three weeks protection against being arrested to Goswami.
In another case, ARG Outlier Media Pvt. Ltd. (which runs Republic TV) and Arnab Goswami moved the apex court on October 10, 2020, over the alleged television rating points (TRP) manipulation scam. This case was heard on October 15, 2020, and disposed off. Mumbai Police had alleged that Republic TV was creating hurdles in the process of investigation and that the case could not be transferred to the CBI at the moment. The apex court refused to entertain Goswami’s plea and asked him to move the Bombay high court.
The Supreme Court on Thursday (December 17, 2020) disposed off another petition by ARG Outlier Media – filed on November 6, 2020 – challenging an FIR registered by the Mumbai Police against its editors and reporters for allegedly trying to cause “disaffection” among police personnel. The bench headed by Chief Justice Bobde asked the petitioners to approach the Bombay high court.
A petition challenging an FIR against Goswami in the 2018 abetment to suicide case was also listed and disposed off by the apex court within a month.
However, it’s surprising how the Supreme Court’s pace in hearing pleas other than Goswami’s don’t show much efficiency. The Supreme Court Bar Association president Dushyant Dave last month wrote a letter to the apex court’s secretary-general to protest the “special treatment” accorded to Goswami. Dushyant questioned how the journalist’s bail plea gets listed “instantly” each time he moves the top court.
Among the many activists, journalists and academics, who have struggled to secure a hearing before the Supreme Court is journalist Siddique Kappan. He was arrested on October 5 by the Uttar Pradesh Police for alleged criminal conspiracy in the wake of Hathras gang-rape incident. Kappan has been kept in Mathura jail in sub-par conditions, and he had not been allowed to meet his counsel for the longest time.