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Gross violation of Supreme Court guidelines – Illegal detention of Arnab Goswami

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Siddhant Mishra
Siddhant Mishra
Advocate Siddhant Mishra practices before the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court

The arrest of Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV Media Network Arnab Goswami is a blatant misuse of power by the Maharashtra Police. The illegal arrest is an attack on individual freedom and the fourth pillar of democracy. The more serious charge is violation of the Supreme Court guidelines passed in the judgment of DK Basu vs State of West Bengal AIR 1997 SC 610. The following requirements to be followed in all cases of arrest or detention as preventive measurers :

(1) The police personnel carrying out the arrest and handling the interrogation of the arrestee should bear accurate, visible and clear identification and name tags with their designations. The particulars of all such police personnel who handle interrogation of the arrestee must be recorded in a register.

(2) That the police officer carrying out the arrest of the arrestee shall prepare a memo of arrest at the time of arrest and such memo shall be attested by at least one witness, who may be either a member of the family of the arrestee or a respectable person of the locality from where the arrest is made. It shall also be counter signed by the arrestee and shall contain the time and date of arrest.

(3) A person who has been arrested or detained and is being held in custody in a police station or interrogation centre or other lock-up, shall be entitled to have one friend or relative or other person known to him or having interest in his welfare being informed, as soon as practicable, that he has been arrested an is being detained at the particular place, unless the attesting witness of the memo of arrest is himself such a friend or a relative of the arrestee.

(4) The time, place of arrest and venue of custody of an arrestee must be notified by the police where the next friend or relative of the arrestee fives outside the district or town through the Legal Aid Organisation in the District and the police station of the area concerned telegraphically within a period of 8 to 12 hours after the arrest.

(5) The person arrested must be made aware of this right to have someone informed of his arrest or detention as soon as he is put under arrest or is detained.

(6) An entry must be made in the diary at the place of detention regarding the arrest of the person which shall also disclose the name of the next friend of the person who has been informed of the arrest and the names and particulars of the, police officials in whose custody the arrestee is.

(7) The arrestee should, where he so requests, be also examined at the time of his arrest and major and minor injuries, if any present on his/herbed, must be recorded at that time. The “Inspection Memo” must be signed both by the arrestee and the police officer effecting the arrest and its copy provided to the arrestee.

(8) The arrestee should be subjected to medical examination by a trained doctor every 48 hours during his detention in custody by a doctor on the panel of approved doctors appointed by Director, Health Services of the concerned State or Union Territory. Director, Health Services should prepare such a penal for all Tehsils and Districts as well.

(9) Copies of all the documents including the memo of arrest, referred to above, should be sent to the illaga Magistrate for his record.

(10) The arrestee may be permitted to meet his lawyer during interrogation, though not throughout the interrogation.

(11) A police control room should be provided at all district and State Headquarters, where information regarding the arrest and the place of custody of the arrestee shall be communicated by the officer causing the arrest, within 12 hours of effecting the arrest and at the police control room it should be displayed on conspicous notice board. (Para 36)

These requirements are in addition to the constitutional and statutory safeguards and do not detract from various other directions given by the courts from time to time in connection with the safeguarding of the rights and dignity of arrestee.

In law, there is a principle of “presumption of innocence till he has proven guilty” it requires a person arrested to be treated with humanity, dignity and respect until his guilt is proven. In a free society like ours, the law is quite careful toward one’s “personal liberty” and doesn’t permit the detention of any person without legal sanction. Article 21 of our constitution provides: “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”.

On 04.11.2020 Arnab Goswami along with his mother-in-law, father-in-law, son and wife have been physically assaulted. Mumbai Police entered Goswami’s residence today and allegedly physically assaulted his family members and him. Republic TV channel has telecast visuals of Mumbai police entering Goswami’s residence and what appears to be a scuffle. Armed Police carrying assault rifles barged Mr. Goswami’s house and physically assaulted him. He was forcibly dragged by his hair into the police van before being arrested by Raigad Police in Maharashtra. The police forcibly shut off news cameras before barging into the residence of Mr Goswami and attacking and thrashing a reputed national TV news journalist. Arnab was dragged out of his own home as nearly 40-50 police officers cordoned off his residence. Moreover, the cops also attacked his 20-year-old son and manhandled him as he tried to capture the brazen attack by the Mumbai Police on camera. The incident, which has been captured on camera, shows Arnab screaming at the cops to not touch his son.

Copy of complaint with the National Human Rights Commission

Arnab Goswami was forcefully dragged and physically manhandled before being taken into the custody in the death case of interior designer Anvay Naik, who allegedly died by suicide in Alibaug in May 2018. A suicide note purportedly written by Naik alleged that Goswami had not paid him his dues. It is pertinent to mention that the closure report was filed by the police and the case is re-opened maliciously to settle personal score.

Maharashtra Governments should not act with a vindictive mindset against their critics. Journalists and media organizations should not be harassed and persecuted for their comments and views, however unpleasant and biased they are. In Lucknow Development Authority Vs M.K.Gupta , it was held that ”when public servant by mala fide, oppressive and capricious acts in performance of official duty causes, injustice, harassment and agony to common man and renders the State or its instrumentality liable to pay damages to the person aggrieved from public fund, State or its instrumentality is duty bound to later recover the amount of compensation so paid from the public servant concerned.”

The author who is a Lucknow based advocate has personally prayed before the National Human Rights Commission that directions passed by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India is a sine qua non under the criminal law jurisprudence and therefore contempt of Court proceedings and Departmental action should be initiated against Maharashtra Police officials who has violated above safeguards guaranteed to the citizens of the country.

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Siddhant Mishra
Siddhant Mishra
Advocate Siddhant Mishra practices before the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court
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