The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to transfer the FIRs lodged against Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami for a news programme on the Palghar mob-lynching to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Arnab Goswami had moved the apex court seeking to quash multiple FIRs lodged against him in various states over his defamatory statements against Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in a news show relating to Palghar mob-lynching.

However, the Supreme Court has extended his interim protection from arrest by three weeks. “Right of a journalist under 19 1 (a) higher…Free citizens can’t exist if news media can’t speak,” Indian Express quoted the court as saying.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Goswami, had urged the court to transfer the probe to CBI.

He said the nature of the second FIR against Arnab Goswami over a show on the migrant gathering outside Bandra station on April 14 shows that it’s arm-twisting tactic.

“They are trying to stifle an unpleasant voice. This is a political party targeting a journalist. All complainants are members of one political party. They have a problem with the government. They want to teach this journalist a lesson,” he said.

Objecting to this, Kapil Sibal who was appearing for Maharashtra government said, “CBI investigation will go into your hands.”

He also denied that Goswami was harassed and said he was only asked relevant questions.