Arrest Of Arnab Goswami & Media V/S State

Arrest Of Arnab Goswami & Media V/S State

With Arnab Goswami of Republic being denied bail, let us look at the beginning of his tussle with the Maharashtra Government.

Crux of the Matter

Bail Rejected
Bombay High Court rejected the bail application of Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV. Goswami and 2 others were arrested on 4 November and was put in judicial custody till 18 November.

Goswami was arrested for alleged abetment of the suicide of Anvay Naik, an interior designer. His arrest was declared “prima facie illegal” by the Court.

Prison Shift
Goswami was moved to Taloja jail after he was allegedly found using mobile phone in judicial custody. Several terrorists have been imprisoned in Taloja jail, with the list including Abu Salem, aides of Ajmal Kasab, etc.

Arnab v/s Maharashtra Timeline

Palghar Lynching

  • April 2020: 2 Sadhus and their driver were lynched in Palghar – allegedly on fake rumours of child kidnapping.
  • Goswami claimed “woh (Sonia Gandhi) khush hai ki santon ko maara gaya, jahan pe unki sarkar hai” (Sonia Gandhi is glad over murder of Sadhus in her regime).
  • FIR was filed against Goswami for comments on Gandhi and alleged attempts to “communalize” the incident.
  • Controversy as Goswami was questioned for over 12 hours amidst nationwide lockdown.

Bollywood Tussle

  • Legal notice was sent to Goswami from Shiv Sena in August.
  • He was accused of allegedly connecting CM Uddhav Thackeray and other members to the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
  • September: 2 Republic journalists were arrested for allegedly “trespassing” on Uddhav Thackeray’s farmhouse.
  • October: Pradeep Bhandari (Republic consulting editor) alleged arrest after his coverage of demolition of Kangana Ranaut’s office by BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation).

TRP Scam

  • Republic was named as accused in the ‘TRP scam’.
  • Republic claimed that the complaint of ‘Hansa’ research didn’t mention Republic and mentioned India Today instead.
  • Republic then claimed that an FIR was filed against the “entire editorial team of the network”.

Suicide Abetment Case

  • 2018: Architect-interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik died by alleged suicide.
  • Reported suicide over alleged “non-payment” of dues by Arnab Goswami.
  • Suicide note mentioned that Goswami’s Republic, Feroz Shaikh of IcastX/Skimedia and Niteish Sarda of Smartwork owed him ₹83 lakh, ₹4 crore and ₹55 lakh respectively (total ₹5.4 crores).
  • Though the case was closed in 2019, it has been reopened in 2020 in which Goswami, Shaikh, and Sarda were arrested recently.
  • Republic claimed to have paid 90% of all dues 2 years ago and alleged “repeated attempts” for settlement.
  • They also claimed to have transferred the dues to the bank account of Anvay’s company in July 2019, which were returned due to the “inoperative” status of the account.
  • India ranked 142nd in the Press Freedom Index in 2020. Norway and Finland ranked 1st and 2nd respectively in the list.
  • Arnab Goswami has a Y level of security that includes round-the-clock protection from around 11 personnel and 1 or 2 armed commandos for close proximity protection.
  • Arnab’s father, Manoranjan Goswami is a retired Indian Army officer and a BJP member, who has contested as a BJP candidate in the general election, from Guwahati.
  • Prasar Bharti is India’s largest public broadcasting agency which comprises Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR).

Maharashtra And India’s Linguistic Divide

Maharashtra And India's Linguistic Divide

Recent order from Maharashtra state of making Marathi the language of official use adds to its long history of regionalism and division based on language. Let us understand the linguistic divide of Indian states.

Crux of the Matter

Marathi Made Mandatory?
Recently, the Maharashtra state government passed a circular which ordered “departments, local authorities, officers and employees” to use only Marathi language for the official work. No increment would be provided if Marathi language is not used in the annual confidential files. Earlier in 2020, Maharashtra passed a law to make Marathi compulsory for all students belonging to 1-6 standard in the state.

Hostilities Against Migrant Labour
In 2008, a clash occurred between the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) workers. The situation deteriorated after the clashes as MNS workers attacked workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

MNS leader Raj Thackeray then criticized Amitabh Bachchan for being “more loyal to UP” than Maharashtra where he worked as a Bollywood actor.

Further hostilities ensued as MNS workers wrecked shops that did not have signboards written in Marathi. Eventually, a law was passed for shops that directed the to have their boards compulsorily in Marathi.

Raj Thackeray was once arrested after his party workers assaulted north Indian students appearing for the Government Railway Board exams, after which the hostilities decreased.

Hostilities From The Past
Bal Thackeray, who was the founder of the Shiv Sena, started a magazine called Marmik in 1960. In the magazine, Thackeray blamed people from other states for the unemployment of Marathi youth. While founding the Shiv Sena in 1966, Thackeray blamed the “South Indians” for “stealing” the jobs of Maharashtrian people.

After acquiring significant power, Thackeray reportedly incited local people to assault UP and Bihar workers and called the people of Bihar a “burden” on the country. While Bal Thackeray described the Chhath Puja as “not a holiday”, his nephew Raj Thackeray described the festival as “drama”.

History Of Linguistic Divide In India
The first notable demand for separation based on language occurred in 1895 for the demand of Orissa. The demand was eventually fulfilled in 1936 when Oriya speakers of Bihar and Bengal formed the Orissa state out of them.

In 1953, several Telugu speakers of the Madras state separated on the basis of language and formed the state of Andhra Pradesh.

In 1956, the Mahagujarat movement began which demanded the creation of a separate state for the Gujarati and Marathi speaking people. The movement acquired success in 1960 when Gujarat and Maharashtra were formed out of the Bombay Presidency.

Constitution on Linguistic Divide
Article 345 of the Indian Constitution allows “the Legislature of a State to adopt any one or more of the languages in use in the State or Hindi as the language or languages to be used for all or any of the official purposes of that State”.

Some prominent Indian leaders have expressed doubts about the linguistic divide of India. One of them was B. R. Ambedkar.

In a linguistic state, what would remain for the smaller communities to look to? Can they hope to be elected to the legislature? Can they hope to maintain a place in the state service?

This does not mean that there is no case for linguistic provinces. What it means is that there must be definite checks and balances to see that a communal majority does not abuse its power under the cover of a linguistic state.

B R Ambedkar, Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee and a social reformer

  • John R R Tolkien was an English writer, poet, philologist, and academic. He was the author of the high fantasy works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which were created around his constructed languages. He created the 15 different Elvish dialects, along with languages for the Ents, the Orcs, the Dwarves, the men and the Hobbits, and more.
  • KiLiKi is a fictional language originally created by Madhan Karky for the 2015 Indian epic adventure film Baahubali: The Beginning. It has 750 words and 40 grammar rules and is written using 22 symbols.
  • Prof. Lokesh Chandra is a prominent scholar of the Vedic period, Buddhism and the Indian arts. He was the President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations during 2014–2017. He knows Sanskrit, Pali, Hindi, Avestan, Old Persian, Greek, Latin, French, German, English, Russian, Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolian, Japanese, and Indonesian; as a result, he is considered a polyglot.
  • Duolingo is an American platform that includes a language-learning website and mobile app, as well as a digital language proficiency assessment exam. As of 30 June 2020, the language-learning website and app offer 95 different language courses in 38 languages. The app has over 300 million registered users across the world.

From Lockdown to Lockout in Maharashtra

As of 13th April, India has close to 10,000 cases with 300+ dead from COVID-19. 45% of India’s cases have been reported from the top 3 states – Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

The first COVID-19 positive case in Maharashtra was in Pune on 9 March 2020 and from then the state now has 2,000+ cases across 28 districts which is the highest in India. More than two-thirds of these cases have emerged in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The state had only 3 testing facilities till mid-March but by April 5, 15 government labs and 12 private labs approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research were set up across the state.

As of April 12, Maharashtra tested more than 41,000 people out of which around 38,000 were negative and 1900+ have been tested positive. Around 200 odd patients have been discharged until now after full recovery. More than 61,000 people are in-home quarantine and around 5000 people are in institutional quarantine.

The state reported 229 new cases, the highest in a single day on 9th April following 14 cases being identified only in Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum, which now has been sealed. A 52-year-old BMC sweeper has been tested positive for coronavirus. He is a resident of Jijamata Nagar in Worli and his work area was Dharavi and both these areas have reported COVID-19 related deaths. About 23 contacts related to him have been quarantined.

BMC has identified 381 containment zones in Mumbai where the entry or exit of people have been barred and the BMC is providing door-to-door service of essentials in these areas. It has banned all unlicensed vegetable and fruit markets, hawkers and sellers in these zones. The Maharashtra government has also made the wearing of face masks mandatory in public places in Mumbai.

The Thane Municipal Corporation also identified 15 hot spots and declared them as Quarantine Containment zones. On April 9, NSCI dome in Worli also has been turned into a quarantine facility by BMC.

Mumbai and Pune are the 2 major hotspots out of 10 identified by the Central government. In terms of deaths, 92 are from Mumbai and 33 from Pune whereas 136 and 36 patients have recovered in the Mumbai and Pune respectively. The areas of Islampur in Sangli, Worli Kolivada in Mumbai, Peth areas of Kondhwa in Pune have been sealed to prevent community spread after a number of cases were identified.

People are facing difficulty in staying home in densely populated areas of Mumbai because as many as 15 people live in a 10×10 feet room. So, we are planning to accommodate them in schools in order to ensure social distancing.

Rajesh Tope, Minister of Health Maharashtra

On April 12, 22 deaths were recorded out of which 6 of them were aged over 60 years, 15 were in the age group 40 to 60 years and 1 was less than 40 years old. 20 out of these 22 patients had high- risk comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma and heart disease.

From the following graph of the distribution of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra according to age groups, we can see that maximum cases are between the ages of 40-70.

Age-wise distribution of cases in Maharashtra
Source: COVID-19 Monitoring Dashboard by Public Health Department, Government of Maharashtra

SC Orders Free of Cost Testing
On 8th April the Supreme Court asked the government to ensure all tests for COVID-19 are conducted free by public and private laboratories. SC gave 2 weeks to govt for a reply and suggested that the government should come up with a mechanism where the private laboratories can be reimbursed for these tests. This decision has now sparked a debate on if it is a case of judicial overreach.

We find prima facie substance in the submission of the petitioner that at this time of national calamity, permitting private labs to charge Rs 4,500 for screening and confirmation test of COVID-19 may not be within means of a large part of the population of this country and no person should be deprived.

Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice S Ravindra Bhat

Current Situation Across India

Source WHO Report

On the 19th day of the lockdown, India’s tally jumped by over 900 cases in 24 hours, taking the total count to 9352 with 324 deaths as of 13th April 2020. After Maharashtra; Delhi and Tamil Nadu have the highest numbers with 1154 and 1043 respectively. Uttar Pradesh has been successful in avoiding community spread and has 427 cases.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with all Chief Ministers to strategize ahead-considering extension of lockdown for tackling COVID-19. Following which, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry, and Odisha have extended the lockdown till April 30. The timeline of India’s current situation can be seen in the graphic represented below.

Source: WHO Report

New Delhi
After the cases in Delhi doubled from 223 on April 2 to 447 on April 4, the government has declared 43 hotspots as containment zones and sealed them to combat the spread of the virus. Several parts of Nizamuddin, Dilshad Garden, Vasundhara Enclave, Kalyanpuri, Pandav Nagar, Krishan Kunj, Khichripur, Malviya Nagar, Sangam Vihar and Patparganj have been sealed.

We have declared COVID-19 containment zones as red zones and high-risk zones as orange zones. We have identified more containment zones in the national capital.

Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister Delhi

The Union Health Ministry had earlier reported the increase in doubling of cases in fewer days due to the spread originated at the Tablighi Jamaat convention in Delhi. Many state governments have questioned the inaction of Delhi government and police and have held them responsible for the spread across the country.

Delhi Police could have stopped the program at Nizamuddin. A program similar to Delhi’s Nizamuddin was scheduled to be held near Mumbai in Vasai on March 15-16 but was not allowed by us. Why did the Delhi Police not stop this program like us? Because of this, COVID-19 cases have increased.

Anil Deshmukh, Maharashtra Home Minister

Jammu & Kashmir
The state has recorded 245 cases with 4 deaths and thus tight security measures have been imposed with the markets and public transport also being closed down.

The biggest congregation on this occasion which is held every year at the Hazratbal shrine on the banks of Dal Lake here was canceled. No night prayers were held at any major mosque or shrine in Kashmir on Shab-e-Baraat after the District Magistrate of Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary issued an order under Section 144 CrPC prohibiting all religious congregations and public movement.

Following the order from Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir; authorities have intensified ground surveillance to track travelers, who hid their recent travel history after a group of 5 African travelers were caught and found COVID positive.

  • The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 is a law that was first enacted to tackle bubonic plague in Mumbai in former British India.
  • Jaslok Hospital, which is a premier healthcare center in Mumbai, had to shut admission of new patients due to one asymptomatic patient tested positive for COVID-19, which resulted in as much as 21 staff members also testing positive.
  • Maharashtra is the first Indian state to cross 1000 positive cases mark. Delhi and Tamil Nadu are the only other 2 states to also cross this mark.

Shiv Sena MLAs Unhappy With Cabinet Expansion

There is growing resentment and unrest within the Shiv Sena with at least 12 MLAs contemplating to quit the party over non-inclusion of certain leaders in the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi cabinet.

Crux of the Matter
  • The MLA’s are extremely unhappy over NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s interference in the cabinet expansion and also about all-important portfolios being given to the NCP.
  • CM Uddhav Thackeray excluded several of Shiv Sena MLA’s who were ministers in the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet which has also led to widespread resentment within the party.
  • Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut is also seen dissatisfied with non-inclusion of his brother Sunil Raut in the cabinet. He also posted hinting his unhappiness towards the party but later took the post down. He had also skipped the cabinet expansion ceremony.
  • MLA Bhaskar Jadhav has blamed Thackeray for not keeping his promise as he had recently joined the Shiv Sena after quitting the NCP.
  • Senior MLA Tanaji Sawant met the CM to discuss his non-inclusion in the cabinet. He also held meetings in Solapur and Osmanabad districts demanding a ministerial berth.
  • Yavatmal-Washim MP Bhawana Gavli and Thane MLA Pratap Sarnaik expressed their resentment openly over the cabinet expansion.
  • Meanwhile, in the Congress party as well there were differences over portfolios. The Congress had demanded additional portfolios which had gone to NCP & Shiv Sena.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi is a political coalition formed after the 2019 Maharashtra Legislative Assembly election under the leadership of Sharad Pawar of the NCP, Uddhav Thackeray of SS and Sonia Gandhi of INC along with the support from the SP, PWPI, Prahar Janshakti Party and several other political parties including Independent MLAs. Uddhav Thackeray was elected as a leader of the MVA after a meeting on 26 November 2019. He took the oath of the office and secrecy on 28 November 2019 as the 19th chief minister of Maharashtra state. BJP and Shiv Sena failed to form a government due to differences in the position of the CM. More Info