This has by no means been the extent of discourse: SC on Arnab FIRs

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 26

Concerned over the declining standards of discourse on TV news channels, the Supreme Court on Monday called for responsible reporting even as it pointed out that some journalists needed more protection as they were targeted with greater intensity.

“You can be a little old-fashioned with reporting. Frankly speaking, I cannot stand it. This has never been the level of discourse…There has to be responsibility in reporting…Peace and harmony of the society is what matters to the court…there are some areas where everyone must tread with caution,” a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde told senior counsel Harish Salve who represented Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami.

The Bench was hearing Maharashtra government’s appeal against the Bombay High Court’s order suspending probe into two FIRs against Goswami – one against his comments against Congress president Sonia Gandhi in connection with Palghar lynchings and the other for his alleged attempt to give a communal colour to a gathering of migrant workers at Bandra Railway station during COVID19 lockdown. The HC had said “prima facie no case was made out against him”.

As senior advocate A M Singhvi assailed the high court’s June 30 order on behalf of the Maharashtra Government and said an impression should not go that some people are above the law, the Bench said some people were targeted with greater intensity and needed more protection.

“While nobody is above the law, some people are targeted with higher intensity…some people need a higher degree of protection,” it noted.

The top court asked the Maharashtra Government to submit a list of cases filed against Arnab Goswami and posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.

Two FIRs were filed against Goswami—one in Nagpur, which was later transferred to N M Joshi Marg police station in Mumbai following directions from the Supreme Court and another at Pydhonie police station. The Nagpur FIR was about a news show aired on the channel on April 21 about the Palghar incident where two religious leaders and their driver were lynched.

The Pydhonie case followed a show aired by Republic TV on April 29 where Goswami had referred to migrants gathering near a mosque outside the Bandra railway terminus during lockdown. 

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