Karnataka High Courtcited the recent order passed by the Supreme Court in Arnab Goswami’s case to grant anticipatory bail to Rakesh Shetty, Managing Director and Editor of Power TV in an alleged case of extortion.
The Bengaluru police registered the extortion case against Shetty after his channel ran a series of reports raising corruption allegations against the family of the Karnataka Chief Minister, B S Yeddyurappa.
Justice B A Patil, while allowing the petition for anticipatory bail in the case, made observations last week by Supreme Court on Personal Liberty while ordering the release of Republic TV anchor Arnab Goswami.
In the Bail order, the High Court observed, “It is the duty of the Court to exercise its jurisdiction in proper way to protect the personal liberty of a citizen. If the Courts do not interfere, we are troubling the path of destruction. This proposition of law has been laid down by the Hon’ble Apex Court in its recent decision in the case of Arnab Manoranjan Goswami Vs. The State of Maharashtra & Others, decided on 11.11.2020”,
“The provisions of anticipatory bail enshrined in Section 438 of Cr.P.C. is conceptualized under Article 21 of the Constitution of India which relates to personal liberty and it shall be given a liberal interpretation,” high court observed.
While granting interim bail to Arnab Goswami, Justice D Y Chandrachud orally expressed the disappointment that the High Courts are not considering bail pleas properly.
In the case of Goswami on November 11, Justice Chandrachud orally remarked during the day-long hearing “There has to be a message to High Courts, Please exercise your jurisdiction to uphold personal liberty. We are seeing case after case. HCs are failing to exercise jurisdiction”,
“If we as a constitutional court do not lay down law and protect liberty then who will?”, Justice Chandrachud had asked.
While granting bail, the High Court observed that the antecedents of the complainant must also be considered.“It is true that autobiography and antecedents of the accused must be seen while considering the bail application, but at the same time autobiography and antecedents of the complainant must also be seen. Court has to put the facts of the case of the complainant and accused into a scale and weigh it to ascertain the truth. Complainant who is before the Court has also not come up with clean hands and it appears that all is not well. In that light, I am of the considered opinion that in order to ascertain the truth, a fair and unbiased investigation is necessary“
Court said that the bail can be allowed on “stringent condition”and asked Shetty to co-operate with the investigation and furnish a bond of Rs. 2 lakh.
Earlier petition to quash FIR was filed by him, which the High Court has dismissed the writ petition. The Court directed the City Crime Branch(CCB) to give Shetty access to his social media accounts in YouTube and Facebook, after downloading and storing the incriminating data.
“…an investigating agency cannot retain the user name and password of social media/digital platform like Facebook and YouTube pending investigation, the investigation agency can download the data required from such account and thereafter has to give back the changed credentials to the person who owns the said social media”, observed a single bench of Justice Suraj Govindraj.”
The return of the electronic equipments, laptops, and hard disks seized by the CCB was allowed by the Court to Shetty.