TRP Scam Case: Disagreement on submission of reports

Bombay High Court LAW INSIDER IN

Umamageswari Maruthappan

The Bombay High Court has listed the TRP Scam Case on 29th January 2021 at 12:30 PM for the final hearing. The Bench comprised Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve appeared for AGR Outlier Media Private Limited, the principal company that runs the Republic channels. Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal represented Mumbai Police.

Claiming the allegations against Arnab Goswami to be “non-sensical”, Advocate Salve said that the Enforcement Directorate is probing a money laundering case in this relation and the ASG had requested to submit its report before the Court.

However, a disagreement arose between the two learned counsels with respect to the submission of reports from the ED through its counsel ASG Anil Singh.

Advocate Sibal objected to it stating that neither the ED nor the ASG had locus standi in this case. Replying to Sibal’s argument, Counsel Salve said that the AGR had amended its plea to also include ED as a party.

While emphasizing on the plea amendment, the Court granted the Mumbai Police time to file its reply in this regard and adjourned the case to be heard on 29th January 2021.

The Court further directed the Mumbai Police to continue with its undertaking till 29th January 2021 and thus no coercive action can be taken against the accused.

The Bench also extended till 29th January 2021, the interim relief to the employees of the complainant company, Hansa Research Group, by directing the Police to not call them for inquiry for more than two days a week.

The case deals with the TRP (Television Rating Point) scam which was uncovered following a complaint made by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) through Hansa Research Group alleging that some television channels, including The Republic, are engaged in manipulative practices to raise TRPs.

Later, the Mumbai Police Department discovered that Republic TV’s Editor-in-Chief, Arnab Goswami, had bribed former BARC Chief Partho Dasgupta with a heavy amount to build up the channel’s TRP.

Dasgupta was arrested by the Mumbai Police on 24th December 2020. The Police also later informed that the then BARC Chief was denied bail by the Mumbai Court which held that he “manipulated TRP for particular TV channels” during his tenure as BARC CEO.

The AGR Outlier Media Private Limited moved the Bombay High Court seeking a direction to Mumbai Police against taking coercive action against its employees.

It is to be noted that ARG Media has filed several petitions urging the Bombay High Court to transfer the case either to the Central Bureau Investigation (CBI) or other independent agencies.

During the case hearings, on 6th January 2021, the Mumbai Police agreed to not take any coercive action against any Arnab Goswami and other employees of AGR till 15th January 2021.

On 15th January 2021, the Bombay High Court heard the matter and has adjourned it to 29th January 2021 for further hearing.

Meanwhile, Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan has shared screenshots of a leaked WhatsApp conversation between Goswami and former BARC CEO Dasgupta on 15th January 2021.

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