A Srinagar court has issued a non-bailable warrant against Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and three other journalists - Zeenat Zeeshan, Fazili Sakal Bhatt and Aditya Raj Kaul. It is for failing to appear before the Chief Judicial Magistrate in December 2018 in a defamation case filed by former PDP minister Naeem Akhter.
The CJM, Srinagar, observed that the pleas put forth by Arnab Goswami's counsel Irshad Ahmad were not satisfactory and directed the Senior Superintendent Police, J&K, to ensure their appearance in the next case hearing on March 23.
The council earlier pleaded that Arnab Goswami, Aditya Raj Kaul and Sakal Bhatt could not be present in the court due to the prevailing tense situation in the valley post-Pulwama attack, but the CJM did not seem to agree with the defence argument, according to Kashmir News Service.
Naeem Akhter had alleged in his plea against Arnab Goswami and his colleagues that they had aired a fabricated and scandalous story against him and urged the CJM, Srinagar to try the reporters under sections 499 and 500 of RPC that amounts to defamation.
The CJM observed that one of the reporters, Zeenat Zeeshan Fazili who is a Srinagar resident has also missed her court appearances and that her professional and personal engagements are not a valid excuse to miss the same.
The four journalists were set to appear before a Srinagar court on February, 23 and submit their bail bonds, which they did not do.
"From the record, it appears that the accused persons are performing their duties of journalists. During these days all the journalists are in the valley for capturing day to day activities. The reasons as mentioned in the application does not seem to be so clear, as such, the application moved by the counsel for the accused persons for their personal exemptions for today, being devoid of any merits, as such stands rejected and made part of the file," the court said.