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Maharashtra police files charge sheet against Arnab Goswami in Anvay Naik suicide abetment case

Mumbai: Maharashtra police has filed a charge sheet in the 2018 abetment suicide case of architect-interior designer Anvay Naik, 53, and his mother, Kumud. Editor-in-chief of Republic Media Network Arnab Goswami and two others — Feroz Shaikh and Nitesh Sarda are accused.

Police inspector and investigating Officer Jamil Shaikh confirmed that the charge sheet had been filed.

Maharashtra police arrested Goswami, Shaikh, and Sarda on November 4 from their residences in Mumbai. They were produced in the Alibag court on the same day and sent to judicial custody. Goswami was in jail for eight days and walked out of Taloja jail on November 11 after the Supreme Court granted him bail.

Shockingly, the filing of the charge sheet comes 8 days after the Honourable Supreme Court had said that prima facie no case had been made against Arnab Goswami in the case.

The Maharashtra police filed a charge sheet of around 1,900 pages, which includes a statement of 65 witnesses. There are statements of Naik’s family members and staff members. The charge sheet also includes reports of the accused’s staff and call data records and information retrieval from electronic devices.

This move is a scathing indictment of the state of affairs in Maharashtra, where a charge sheet is filed in open defiance of the Supreme Court’s observations that noted that the basic ingredients of an offense were not even established by the FIR in the case. In fact, the Supreme Court had said,* “Prima facie, on the application of the test which has been laid down by this Court in a consistent line of authority which has been noted above, it cannot be said that the appellant was guilty of having abetted the suicide within the meaning of Section 306 of the IPC.”*

Goswami had applied on December 3 before the Bombay high court (HC), urging the court to stay any further probe into the suicide abetment case registered against him. He has also sought an interim order to restrain Alibag police from filing a charge sheet and transfer the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or some other independent agency beyond the Maharashtra government’s purview.

Naik, architect and managing director of Concorde Designs Private Limited, and his mother Kumud died by suicide at his Alibag farmhouse in Raigad on May 5, 2018. In his suicide note, police said, Naik alleged, he was being forced to take this step as he was not paid his dues — ₹83 lakh by Goswami, ₹55 lakh Sarda of Smartworks, and four crores by Shaikh of IcastX/Skimedia. Acting on a complaint by Naik’s wife, Akshata, police registered an offense booking the trio on May 5, 2018.

On April 16, 2019, the investigating officer submitted an A-summary report and sought closure of the case for want of prosecutable evidence against any of the three accused. The jurisdictional magistrate had accepted the notice the same day.

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