Have found evidence against Republic TV, Arnab Goswami in TRP scam case: Mumbai Police tells Bombay HC
The police agreed to continue its previous assurance of not taking any coercive action till January 15 as the court adjourned the matter without hearing any arguments during the day
Mumbai Police told Bombay High Court on Wednesday that it did not want to continue granting protection from coercive action to Republic TV and its editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami as it had found “some evidence” against them in the Television Rating Points (TRP) scam case.
The police, however, agreed to continue its previous assurance of not taking any coercive action till January 15, the next date of hearing in the case, as the court adjourned the matter without hearing any arguments during the day.
The alleged fake TRP scam was unearthed last year after the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) filed a complaint alleging that certain television channels were rigging their TRP numbers, apparently to generate more revenue from advertisements.
As reported by National Herald on December 29, the Mumbai Police had submitted in a report to a Mumbai court seeking the remand of former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta, arrested by it in the same case, that Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami had paid “lakhs of rupees” to him to “increase” the Television Rating Points (TRPs) of the two Republic news channels.
According to the report, Dasgupta used the money to purchase jewellery and other valuables that were seized from his residence. “The purchases include one Tag Heuer watch worth approximately Rs 1 lakh and imitation jewellery and stones worth Rs 2.22 lakh,” the police said.
Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze had said that during questioning, Dasgupta confessed that Goswami had met him at least three times in separate hotels in Mumbai, and “made payments worth lakhs in cash, including once in US dollars”.
On December 25, National Herald had reported that in a press conference, Milind Bharambe, Joint CP (Crime) of Mumbai Police had said an audit of BARC data had revealed that the TRP scam had been on since at least 2016 and that it had resulted in Republic TV dislodging Times Now from the number one slot.
Mumbai Police had registered an FIR in October alleging the fudging of TRPs by certain TV channels. In a press conference, Mumbai Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh had said that investigations had found that three channels — Republic TV, Box Cinemas and Fakt Marathi — were prima facie involved in manipulating TRPs.
On Wednesday, the HC adjourned the matter after a lawyer for Republic TV told the court that senior advocate Harish Salve was unable to appear while the second senior lawyer was stuck due to some medical emergency in his family.
At this point, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Mumbai Police agreed that the police will refrain from taking any coercive action against the accused till the next date of hearing.
“We (Mumbai Police) have found evidence on record through investigation with BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami. Milords may record my statement that I (police) do not wish to continue my statement. I (Police) have agreed (not to take any coercive action against the accused) because of this extreme emergency,” Sibal said referring to the adjournment.
He also told the HC that the police will submit a status report of its probe in the case on the next date of hearing.
(With inputs from PTI)