Days after Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami’s arrest, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Monday made a major statement on allowing his family to meet him in jail.

Deshmukh stated that relatives of inmates of jails are currently not allowed to meet them in view of the coronavirus pandemic. This comes after Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari asked Deshmukh to allow kin of Goswami to meet him.

Speaking to reporters, Deshmukh said communication over the phone is allowed with permission from authorities. Koshyari had asked him over the phone to allow family members of the Republic TV editor-in-chief, arrested in connection with a 2018 suicide case, to see him and speak to him.

The governor also conveyed his concern over the security and health of Goswami, as per a statement issued by Raj Bhavan earlier in the day. “I got a call from honourable Governor saheb. He (Governor) asked me to allow (Arnab) Goswami’s family members to meet him (Goswami),” Deshmukh said.

Goswami is currently in judicial custody in Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai. “But you all know that during the COVID-19 period, for the past four months, we have not been allowing any relative to meet (inmates) due to the fear of the virus. Even lawyers are not allowed to meet (prisoners). However, they can communicate over the phone with permission from authorities,” Deshmukh said.

He said this precaution was taken due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the past four months. Goswami and two others–Feroze Shaikh and Nitish Sarda–were arrested by Alibaug police from Mumbai on November 4 in connection with the suicide of architect-interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother in 2018 over alleged non-payment of dues by companies of the accused.

After his arrest from his residence in Mumbai, Goswami was taken to Alibaug, where the Chief Judicial Magistrate remanded him and the two others in judicial custody till November 18.

Goswami was then kept at a local school which has been designated as a COVID-19 centre for the Alibaug prison. On Sunday, he was shifted to Taloja jail in Raigad district after allegedly being found using a mobile phone while in judicial custody.

The Bombay High Court on Monday refused to grant interim bail to Goswami and two others. The HC, however, directed that Goswami has the remedy under the law to approach the sessions court concerned and seek regular bail.

A division bench of Justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik reportedly said that “no case was made out in the present matter for the high court to exercise its extraordinary jurisdiction”. Goswami’s petition alleged that he is being targeted and harassed by the Maharashtra government for his reportage on his news channel. 

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While reserving its order on the petitions seeking interim bail, the HC on Saturday said that pendency of the matter in the court does not preclude the accused persons from seeking regular bail before the sessions court, while hearing petitions filed by Goswami and two other accused Shaikh and Sarda. The petition challenged their “illegal arrest” in the case and sought interim bail. 





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