ARNAB MANORNJAN GOSWAMI VS. THE STATE OF THE MAHARASTRA

By – Utkarsh Sahu

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

NAME OF THE CASEARNAB MANORNJAN GOSWAMI VS. THE STATE OF THE MAHARASTRA
CITATIONCRIMINAL APPEAL No. 742 OF 2020 WITH CRIMINAL APPEAL Nos. 743 AND 774 OF 2020
DATE OF THE CASE27 NOVEMBER, 2020
APPELLANTARNAM MANORANJAN GOSWAMI AND ORS.
RESPONDENTTHE STATE OF THE MAHARASTRA
BENCH/JUDGEHON’BLE DR. CHANDRACHUD, HON’BLE MS. MALHOTRA, HON’BLE MS. BANERJEE.
STATUTE/CONSTITUTION INVOLVEDCONSTITUTION OF INDIA, CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE,1973
IMPORTANT SECTIONSSECTION 482/164 OF CrPC, ARTICLE 226/227 OF CONSTITUTION OF INDIA

ABSTRACT:

This is a criminal matter related to the abetment to suicide in this case the petitioner was charged with the abetment to suicide under section 306/34 of the IPC. Three people were detained by the police officer based on the FIR which was filed by the respondent. As the respondent’s husband committed suicide and before committing suicide, he wrote a note where he mentioned that the three people were not paid his money to his company which works were done by this company. The petitioners make an appeal to the CJM and High court for quashing their arrest memo and FIR but both the court had rejected the appeal of the petitioner. Further, he approached the Supreme court of India.

INTRODUCTION:

This is an appeal filed by the petitioner before the Honorable Supreme Court of India where sought three substantive reliefs where he claiming that he was illegally arrested and wrongfully detained by the Station House Officer (SHO) at Alibaug Police Station in the district of Raigad in Maharashtra in relation to a First Information Report1 (FIR) registered on 5 May 2018 under Sections 306 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) despite an earlier closure report which was accepted by the Magistrate; The quashing of the FIR in which he was arrested; and The quashing of the arrest memo based on which the appellant had been arrested. 

BACKGROUND OF THE CASE:

In this case, the matter relates to the alleged suicide which was committed by two people named Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik, both were the directors of an interior design company named ‘Concorde Design Pvt. Ltd.’ There was an allegation produced by the deceased person Anvay Naik in his suicide note that Arnab Goswami, the owner of ARG, had not paid an amount of Rs. 83 lacs and there was another amount were not paid an amount of Rs. 4 crores by the Firoz Shaik and Rs. 55 lacs from Nitesh Sarda. The Bombay High Court had on November 9, held that no cause for the release of the accused was made out and, the appeal was rejected from the High Court of Bombay. Then, the accused were moved to the Supreme Court.

FACT OF THE CASE:

In 2018 a case was filed against the accused i.e., Arnab Goswami, and another two people i.e., Firoz Shaik and Nitesh Sarda under section 34/306 of IPC. A suicide was committed by Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud naik, both were the Directors of the ‘Concorde Design Pvt. Ltd’. Before the suicide committed by Anvay Naik he wrote a letter where he mentioned that money is stuck and following owners of respected companies are not paying our legitimate dues an amount of 83 lacs by Arnab Goswami, Rs. 4 crores by Firoz Shaik, and Rs. 55 lacs by Nitesh Sarda. Later, this matter was almost closed by the trial court as the said people were paid their dues to the Company. But in April 2020 a series of FIRs were filed against the Arnab Goswami under sections 153, 153-A, 153-B,295-A, 298, 500, 504(2), 506, 120-B, and 117 of the Indian Penal Code 1860, and the 2018 case were also been reopened. As the accused were detained by the police at their resident and the accused were not get bail from the Session Court the accused were filed an appeal under article 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India in the High Court of Bombay but unfortunately, the High Court also rejected that appeal which was made by the accused as:

(a) “Issue a writ of habeas corpus and/or any other similar writ, order, and direction of like nature, directing the Respondents to produce the Petitioner who has been illegally arrested and wrongfully detained by the Respondent No. 2 in relation to FIR, being C.R. No. 0059 of 2018 dated 5 May 2018, registered at Alibaug Police Station, Raigad, under Sections 306 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, despite a closure report being filed”;

 (b) “Issue a writ of mandamus and/or any other similar writ, order, and direction of like nature, quashing the FIR, being C.R. No. 0059 of 2018, dated 5 May 2018, registered at Alibaug Police Station, Raigad, under Sections 306 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860”;

 (c) “Issue a writ of certiorari and/or any other similar writ, order, and direction of like nature, quashing and/or setting-aside the arrest memo, if any, on the basis of which the Respondents have wrongfully and illegally arrested the Petitioner”.

When the appeal was rejected by the High Court of Bombay he further approached the Supreme Court of India with the same appeal which was made before the High Court.

ISSUE RAISED BEFORE THE COURT:

Whether the quashing of FIR No. 0059 of 2018 is valid or not?

ARGUMENT FROM THE PETITIONER SIDE:

  • The learned counsel Mr. Harish N Salve for the appellant argued that the arrest of the appellant is rooted in malice and that the appellant is the Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV and R Bharat and he has been targeted for his news broadcasts criticizing the Maharashtra government and the Maharashtra police.
  • The learned counsel contended that “the allegations contained in the FIR, read as they stand, do not establish an offense under Section 306 read with Section 34 of the IPC. To constitute the offense of abetment there must exist i. Direct or indirect incitement to the commission of a crime; ii. An active role of the accused in instigating or doing an act facilitating the commission of the crime; and iii. The existence of a proximate relationship in time.”
  • The learned counsel contended that even if “the allegations in the FIR are accepted as they stand, no case of abetment is established. It has been submitted that the company of the appellant (ARG) had entrusted a contract for interior work to the deceased’s company (CDPL). Further, it is not in dispute that while an amount of Rs 5.45 crores has been paid, there was a commercial dispute pending in regard to the remaining payment between the two companies.”
  • The learned counsel submitted that in the FIR the contents reveal that the deceased was already suffering from mental pressure. Hence, there is no absolute allegation raised that the appellant had either instigated or committed any act to facilitate the commission of an offense.

ARGUMENT FROM THE RESPONDENT SIDE:

  • The learned counsel Mr. Amit Desai opposed the submissions which were submitted by the petitioner side, he also mentioned “the High Court declined to express a prima facie view on the issue of mala fides since an opportunity was being granted to the State to file its counter. Similarly, the issue as to whether the FIR is liable to be quashed would be taken up at the final hearing on 10 December 2020 and hence the High Court has correctly refrained from expressing a prima facie view.”
  • The learned counsel further gives the reference and said that in accordance with this Court’s judgment in the case of “Praveen Pradhan vs the State of Uttaranchal and Ors.8 (Praveen Pradhan), instigation to commit suicide has to be gathered from the circumstances of a particular case. Hence, while there may not be direct evidence in regard to instigation which may have direct nexus to suicide, an inference has to be drawn from the circumstances to determine whether they were of nature which created a situation in which a person felt totally frustrated and ended (2012) 9 SCC 734 PART E up committing suicide”.

RELATED PROVISIONS:

 Section 164[1] of CrPC- Recording of confessions and statements.

(1) “Any Metropolitan Magistrate or Judicial Magistrate may, whether or not he has jurisdiction in the case, record any confession or statement made to him in the course of an investigation under this Chapter or under any other law for the time being in force, or at any time afterwards before the commencement of the inquiry or trial: Provided that no confession shall be recorded by a police officer on whom any power of a Magistrate has been conferred under any law for the time being in force”.

(2) “The Magistrate shall, before recording any such confession, explain to the person making it that he is not bound to make a confession and that, if he does so, it may be used as evidence against him; and the Magistrate shall not record any such confession unless, upon questioning the person making it, he has reason to believe that it is being made voluntarily”.

(3) “If at any time before the confession is recorded, the person appearing before the Magistrate states that he is not willing to make the confession, the Magistrate shall not authorize the detention of such person in police custody”.

(4) “Any such confession shall be recorded in the manner provided in section 281 for recording the examination of an accused person and shall be signed by the person making the confession, and the Magistrate shall make a memorandum at the foot of such record to the following effect:-” I have explained to (name) that he is not bound to make a confession and that, if he does so, any confession he may make may be used as evidence against him and I believe that this confession was voluntarily made. It was taken in my presence and hearing and was read over to the person making it and admitted by him to be correct, and it contains a full and true account of the statement made by him.

(Signed) A. B. Magistrate”.

(5) “Any statement (other than a confession) made under sub-section (1) shall be recorded in such manner hereinafter provided for the recording of evidence as is, in the opinion of the Magistrate, best fitted to the circumstances of the case; and the Magistrate shall have the power to administer the oath to the person whose statement is so recorded”.

(6) “The Magistrate recording a confession or statement under this section shall forward it to the Magistrate by whom the case is to be inquired into or tried”.

Section 482[2] of CrPC- “Saving of inherent powers of High Court. Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice”.

JUDGEMENT:

  • In this case, the Honorable Court stated that the “Prima Facie on the application of the test which has been laid down by this court in a consistent line of authority… It cannot be said that the appellant was guilty of having abetted the suicide within the meaning of Section 306 of the IPC.”
  • The Honorable Court give an opinion on the judgment of the High Court for not providing the bail to the accused in the first instance, the bench said that “The High Court abdicated its constitutional duty and function as a protector of liberty. It is the duty of courts across the spectrum — the district judiciary, the high courts, and the Supreme Court — to ensure that the criminal law does not become a weapon for the selective harassment of citizens”.
  • The honorable court made their decision after all arguments and held that this court granted interim bail to all three accused and also questioned the Maharashtra state Government’s intentions in this case.
  • The Honorable Court also said that this is not a criminal matter it is a civil dispute related to commercial transactions, treating it as a criminal would be infringing on the rights and liberty of citizens.

CONCLUSION:

In the above case, the petitioner was granted an interim bail from the Supreme Court of India under section 482 of CrPC. In this case, there were many arguments were done by the parties, the High Court of Bombay also were rejected the bail of the petitioner. Some points were laid down by the Supreme Court in this judgment that the Honorable Court stated that the High Court is the protector of the citizen’s personal liberty. As it is a civil dispute of a commercial transaction and treating it as a criminal offence would affect the person’s personal liberty.