TRP scam: Bombay HC grants bail to former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta

His counsel argued that WhatsApp chats between Partho Dasgupta and journalist Arnab Goswami mentioned in chargesheet were mere “loose talks” between two individuals

TRP scam: Bombay HC grants bail to former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta

NH Web Desk

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted bail to former CEO of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Partho Dasgupta, who is presently detained in Taloja Central Prison for his alleged involvement in the ‘Television Rating Points Scam’.

Bail has been granted subject to his furnishing a bond of Rs. 2 lakh. As part of the bail conditions, Dasgupta is required to visit the Crime Branch of the Mumbai Police on the first Saturday of every month for six months.

Justice PD Naik had reserved his verdict in Dasgupta's bail plea two weeks ago. Dasgupta had approached High Court after the Mumbai Sessions Court rejected his bail plea in January

During the bail hearing, Senior Advocate Aabad Ponda and advocate Shardul Singh made submissions on behalf of Dasgupta.

They informed the Court that a voluminous chargesheet has been filed against Dasgupta within the 60-day period as specified under the provisions of the CrPC. Their contention was that if interrogation and investigation was not completed, the chargesheet against him should not have been filed at all, Bar & Bench reported.

Ponda further argued that the WhatsApp chats between Dasgupta and journalist Arnab Goswami mentioned in the chargesheet could not be relied upon by the Mumbai Police to keep Dasgupta in detention as those were mere "loose talks" between two individuals.

Another ground Ponda raised was that the other accused named in the chargesheet were granted bail or protection from coercive action.

He stated that the Republic TV group was protected from arrest as per the statement before the Division Bench of this Court.

Ponda also contended that according to the chargesheet, the Chief Operating Officer of BARC, Romil Ramgarhia, was directly involved in the manipulation of TRPs whereas Dasgupta was merely negligent. Yet, Ramgarhia was easily given bail because according to the police, investigation against him was complete even though no chargesheet had been filed.

He argued that despite declaring them as the “king-pin” or “main brain” of the whole scam, they were released on bail and such bail was not even challenged by the Mumbai Police later.

Special Public Prosecutor Shishir Hirav made submissions on behalf of the Mumbai Police, opposing the bail application.

Hiray pointed out that even though the Chief Operating Officer of BARC, Romil Ramgarhia, was in charge of the finances, Dasgupta was the main executive officer and the managing director of the company, which is a more important position.

His primary contention was that Dasgupta had thick relations with Goswami, which was evident from the WhatsApp chats which was submitted through the supplementary chargesheet filed by the Mumbai Police.

The Crime Branch of Mumbai Police is taking all measures to conduct the interrogation of Dasgupta while in judicial custody, Hiray added.

He stated that the officers had been taking permission from the Court to investigate Dasgupta in Taloja jail.

The police have accused 15 persons in the TRP Scam including Dasgupta, former BARC COO Romil Ramgarhia and Republic Media Network CEO Vikas Khanchandani.

The forensic audit report accuses several news channels, including Republic and Aaj Tak of TRP manipulation through ex-BARC's top executives.

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