The Rajasthan High Court on Friday granted interim protection from arrest to Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami in a case filed against him by Congress Spokesman Pawan Khera under Rule 153A of the CIP for encouraging enmity between religious groups, legal news portal Bar and Banc reported.
Lead attorney Mahesh Jethmalani mentioned the case before Judge Sandeep Mehta, who ordered the police not to take any enforcement action against those named in the FIR and released the case for the next hearing on May 23.
According to Bar and Bench, the court issued the order while hearing a plea submitted by Arnab Goswami seeking the quashing of the FIR filed against him on May 17 at Ambamata police station in Udaipur in Rajasthan. The FIR was filed on the basis of a complaint filed against the journalist by Congress spokesman Pawan Khera.
Khera had raised objections to a television news program by Republic Bharat, the Republic network’s Hindi channel, over the demolition of an ancient Hindu temple in Rajgarh and the homes of several Hindus in Alwar Rajasthan.
The lawsuit alleged that the FIR was filed with the intent to harass and entangle Republic TV in legal matters. He said the Congressman had filed a complaint in a case where the Rajasthan state Congress government was being questioned, alluding to the fact that Khera was trying to intimidate and silence the media just because his party was questioned.
“The current FIR has been filed at the request of Mr. Pawan Khera who is the spokesperson for the All India Congress Committee and represents the Indian National Congress in various TV talk shows, talks/debates held on different news channels etc according to his own complaint It should be noted that in a case where the Congress government of Rajasthan State was being questioned, a member of the Congress filed a complaint This establishes how the whole case is motivated and designed to harass and implicate a legitimate information network and its members in a litany of cases,” says the plea.
The Republic Bharat show, which offended the Congress spokesperson, was a show related to the alleged demolition of a temple in Rajgarh and a demolition campaign in Alwar.
Notably, OpIndia had also reported on April 22, 2022, how in Rajgarh, Alwar district of Rajasthan, authorities demolished an ancient Hindu temple, drawing criticism and condemnation from locals. According to reports, a JCB was brought in to destroy the roof and pillars of the temple. The temple idols were damaged during the demolition campaign. The Shivalingam inside the temple was also uprooted using drills.
Additionally, authorities in Rajgarh had demolished the homes of more than 85 Hindu families as part of a “road-widening” campaign citing a city master plan. Residents whose homes and shops were demolished said they had valid documents of their properties. Despite this, the municipality demolished their buildings. In a campaign that started on April 17, more than 150 homes and shops, including old temples, have been demolished so far.
In fact, the Republic Bharat show was also on the aforementioned news. Arnab Goswami, in his plea, argued that the broadcasts were aimed at maintaining community harmony rather than disrupting it.
Regarding the issue of the demolition of temples in Rajgarh, the plea said: “In fact, the channels also covered how a Muslim group filed a complaint against Zilla Congress leader Yogesh Mishra for vitiating harmony in the region. Therefore, far from provoking conflict, the Republic exposed them.
Notably, for the Alwar demolition campaign, the program used the words “Jahangirpuri ka badla? In his plea, Arnab Goswami explained that the aforementioned line was not made in reference to a community but to question whether it was an apolitically motivated demolition campaign.
“It is reported that there was an outcry over a demolition campaign at Jahangirpuri in New Delhi on 20-21 April 2022. This demolition was carried out by the BJP led Delhi MCD. Soon after, there was news of the demolition of Alwar in Rajashtan where there is a Congress government in power. Therefore, the issue of ‘Jahangirpuri Ka Badla’ was raised in the context of a political battle for demolition”, said the petition.
Lead barrister Mahesh Jethmalani, representing Arnab Goswami, argued that allowing the proceedings to continue would have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and would constitute a breach of Article 19(1) (guarantee) of freedom of expression and speech. After hearing the plea, Rajasthan High Court Bench Sandeep Mehta granted Republic Television Chief Arnab Goswami interim order of arrest and ordered Rajasthan police not to take any coercive measure against the journalist.