TRP Scam: HC Asks Cops to Give 3-Day Notice to Arnab Before Arrest
Goswami will have the liberty to move the court against any such notice.
Bombay High Court on Wednesday, 24 March, gave Goswami protection from arrest and directed the police to issue a three-day advance notice to Goswami in case they decide to take any coercive action against him. This was based on a plea filed by ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd, challenging Mumbai Police’s probe in the Television Rating Points (TRP) scam.
Thus, Goswami will have the liberty to move the court against any such notice.
The court, on Wednesday, also framed a slew of questions to be decided in the case, and adjourned the matter to 28 June.
WHAT DID THE COURT SAY?
A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale, observed that “serious maladies have been alleged by the petitioner” and also said:
“...we direct that in case the investigating officer desires to summon Petitioner No. 2 for inquiry/investigation, he shall give clear notice of three days (excluding holidays) to him. (sic)”
“During the course of investigation/inquiry, if the investigating officer has reason to believe that he needs to take coercive action against petitioner No. 2, he shall give clear notice of 72 hours before taking such coercive action, so as to facilitate the Petitioner No. 2 to approach the competent forum for appropriate reliefs. (sic)”
MORE DETAILS FROM THE HEARING
The Maharashtra government also informed the court that the probe against Republic TV, other employees of ARG Outlier Media (which runs all Republic TV channels), and other television channels, will be wrapped up within 12 weeks.
Meanwhile, the petitioners reportedly alleged, in court, that the crime branch of the Mumbai Police were prolonging the probe by merely naming them as suspects despite a lack of evidence.
Senior counsel representing ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd Ashok Mundargi on Monday, 22 March, told the Bombay High Court that the WhatsApp chats between Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) CEO Partho Dasgupta were “banter between two close friends”, LiveLaw reported.
Mundargi had also alleged that the probe aims to arrest Goswami and once that was done, the investigation will stop.
Earlier in October 2020, the Mumbai Police had claimed to have busted a ‘TRP scam’, whereby Television Rating Points (TRPs) had allegedly been manipulated. The erstwhile Mumbai Police Commissioner, Param Bir Singh, had said that ratings by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), which measures television ratings in India, were being manipulated.
The police named Republic TV and two other Marathi channels that were allegedly involved in the practice.
(With inputs from LiveLaw.)
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