New Delhi, Nov 11 (efe-epa).- The Supreme Court of India ordered Wednesday the release on bail of controversial television news presenter Arnab Goswami, accused of driving a businessman and his mother to suicides in a 2018 case that has divided media fraternity and politicians.
A two-judge bench of the apex court ordered the release of Goswami and two other accused after the payment of a bail amount of 50,000 rupees (around $670).
“They are, however, directed to cooperate in the investigation and shall not make any attempt to interfere with the ongoing investigation or with the witnesses,” said the court.
Goswami, especially known for his aggressive style of presenting news on television, was arrested on Wednesday last week from his residence in Mumbai, capital of the western Indian state of Maharashtra and known as the country’s financial hub.
The Maharashtra police have accused him of driving interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother, Kumud Naik, to commit suicides on May 5, 2018.
The 53-year-old businessman had left a handwritten suicide note, accusing the firebrand television presenter of refusing to pay a large amount of money owed to him, according to police investigations.
Goswami, who runs private TV network The Republic, partially owned by a lawmaker of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, has denied the allegations.
Following his arrest, a Maharashtra court had sent him to 14 days in judicial custody after a marathon five-hour hearing last week.
Several leaders of the BJP came out in support of the journalist, claiming it was an attempt to crack down on press freedom as well as freedom on expression.
The journalist is not new to controversies. He faces criminal charges in two cases of inciting communal tensions and promoting hatred between religious groups.
In October, the police accused his channel of rigging the Television Rating Points system for gauging the viewership of TV programs based on which a channel charges advertisers.
The arrest of Goswami, who is widely seen as supportive of the BJP and known for yelling at and shouting down panelists on his TV show who do not speak in favor of Modi’s policies, has triggered media freedom debate in a country that ranks as low as 142nd on global press freedom index out of 180 nations. EFE-EPA