Libertatem Magazine

Supreme Court: India’s Freedom will be Safe as Long as Journalists can Speak Truth to the Power Without Being Chilled by a Threat

Contents of this Page

Arnab Ranjan Goswami filed a Writ Petition before the Supreme Court. The petitioner claimed that there has been a violation of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution confers the freedom of speech and expression to an individual.

Facts of the Case

On 16.04.2020, a broadcast happened on the Republic TV and on 21.04.2020, the same broadcast happened on R Bharat. The broadcast concerned an incident that took place in Gadchinchle village, Maharashtra.

Allegedly, in the presence of a police officer and a forest guard, a mob killed three people including two sadhus. The petitioner, in his show, questioned the slow investigation and the State Government’s silence on the incident.

Furthermore, it highlighted that earlier they concealed the presence of a police officer at the incident. The broadcast, however, led to the filing of various FIRs and complaint against the petitioner.

Arguments Before the Court

The petitioner submitted that the investigation conducted by the Mumbai Police is not appropriate. The petitioner said that it is politically motivated with a predetermined motive. Also, the petitioner’s channel questioned the involvement of the Maharashtra Police in the incident. Thus, there is a clear conflict of interest in the investigation by police.

But the State submitted that the petitioner has misused his freedom under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

The petitioner also questioned the involvement of the Commissioner of Police in an India Bulls’ scam. On 28.04.2020, the petitioner threatened to reveal the details of the scam on his news channel in a program “Puchta hai Bharat”. But, the State said that petitioner’s behaviour puts hindrance to the investigation process.

After the interrogation against him completed, he posted a tweet. The tweet created an impression that:

  1. The investigation is not fair;
  2. Biasness of the police towards him, and
  3. He has been needlessly questioned.

Court’s Observation

The bench referred to TT Antony v. State of Kerala, and said that it is “an abuse of the statutory power of investigation”. This is because of the arisen of several proceedings arising in different jurisdictions on the same cause of action.

Further, the Supreme Court observed that it is necessary to protect the rights of the petitioner. This is for two reasons: one, he is a Citizen of India, and two, he is a journalist. Thus, he becomes entitled to a fair treatment guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

Also, if the petitioner will approach the respective High Courts having jurisdiction for quashing the FIRs and criminal complaint. It will lead to a multiplicity of proceedings and harassment to the petitioner.

The Court found that the offence in all the FIRs in different jurisdictions is the same. Furthermore, the FIRs are identical in terms of language, content, terms and sequencing of paragraphs.

Court’s Decision

The Court held that, following the decision given in the case of TT Antony v. State of Kerala, all the successive FIRs or complaints on the same cause of action are not maintainable.

Further, the Court rejected the petitioner’s plea to quash FIR by the Maharashtra Police and to transfer the case to the CBI. The writ petition thus dismissed with the liberty to the petitioner to pursue such remedies which are available in the law. is now on Telegram. Follow us for regular legal updates and judgements from the court. Follow us on Google News, InstagramLinkedInFacebook & Twitter. You can also subscribe for our Weekly Email Updates. You can also contribute stories like this and help us spread awareness for a better society. Submit Your Post Now.

About the Author