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Bombay High Court grants bail to former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta in TRP Scam case

Sushree Mohanty

The Bombay High Court permitted bail to the former Chief Executive Officer of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Partho Dasgupta, who is currently under police detainment in Taloja Central Prison for his supposed association in the Television Rating Points Scam (TRP Scam).

The Bail was allowed subsequent to depositing a bond of Rs. 2 lakh. As a part of the bail conditions, Dasgupta is needed to visit the Crime Branch of the Mumbai Police on the first Saturday of every month until six months.

Earlier Justice PD Naik had saved his decision in Dasgupta’s bail request.

Dasgupta had filed his bail plea under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) on merits and medical grounds.

 He had moved towards the High Court after the Mumbai Sessions Court dismissed his bail plea in January.

On January 22, Arjun Singh Thakur, the advocate representing Dasgupta, had moved to the High Court at 7 pm to file an urgent intercession in his transfer from JJ Hospital, Mumbai to the Taloja Central Prison after his release.

Justice Naik refused to intercede after Chief Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare informed the Court that the Taloja Jail’s officials would keep treating Dasgupta as per the JJ Hospital discharge note.

During the bail hearing, Senior Advocate Abad Ponda and Advocate Shardul Singh submitted their contentions on behalf of Dasgupta.

They additionally informed the Court that a charge sheet has been recorded against Dasgupta within a time frame of 60-days as per the provisions granted under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

Ponda contended that since Dasgupta had exchanged certain text messages with Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami on WhatsApp, he cannot be accused of the supposed offenses.

Another ground for contention Ponda raised was that the other accused in the matter were allowed bail or protection from coercive activity however Dasgupta was remanded in police custody.

He expressed that the Republic TV group and organization were being protected from arrest as per the assertion before the Division Bench of the Court.

They likewise presented that as the charge sheet had effectively been documented and as Dasgupta is suffering from certain medical problems; his bail application should be allowed.

In his submissions, Ponda informed the Hon’ble Court that the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of BARC Romil Ramgarhia had been allowed bail, despite the fact that he had a lot bigger role to carry out in the supposed misrepresentation and fraud case, and therefore Dasgupta should likewise be conceded bail.

He further submitted that the charges made by a representative of BARC with respect to Dasgupta not taking any action when cautioned about the sudden spike in TRP evaluations of a channel would not add up to criminal activity and was only negligence of his obligation.

Special Public Prosecutor Shishir Hiray had opposed the bail plea in light of the fact that Dasgupta was the Chief Executive Officer and reserved certain powers which he can use to tamper with proof or induce the witness if his bail pea is admitted. 

In his contentions, Hiray submitted that the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) was the only organization in India who reserves the power to monitor the Television Rating Points across all channels and the post that Dasgupta was assigned to was a responsible post,

Additionally, his visits with the channel heads and columnists indicated that he had neglected his obligation.

Dasgupta was detained on December 24, 2020, and is in custody since then.

He is accused for his alleged involvement in spiking the Television Rating Points and for having abused his official position and scheming with ARG Outlier Media, the organization that runs all Republic TV channels, and with Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, to control the ratings.

The Republic TV has denied its involvement in the matter.

Following the submissions from both parties, the Hon’ble court has reserved its orders in the current matter.

Read also: TRP Scam Case: Bail plea of Former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta, Bombay HC, reserves order