Summon Arnab if He is to Be Named as Accused in TRP Scam: HC
Harish Salve, appearing for Goswami, said he will appear and cooperate with the probe if he receives the summons.
Bombay High Court on Monday, 19 October, told Mumbai Police to issue summons to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of Republic TV, if he is proposed to be named as accused in the controversial television rating point (TRP) scam, according to LiveLaw.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Mumbai Police, has agreed to the suggestion that the police should first summon Goswami if the officer probing the scam decides to name him as an accused, reported HT.
According to Live Law, the bench comprising Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnika were also informed by Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Goswami, that he will appear and cooperate with the probe if he receives the summons.
The notice, according to LiveLaw, has been issued on a plea filed by ARG Outlier Media Private Limited, which owns Republic TV and R Bharat; and Goswami himself, seeking that the FIR, registered for offences of cheating, criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy in relation to the TRP scam by the Kandivali police station, be quashed.
WHAT DID GOSWAMI’S LAWYER SAY?
Senior Advocate Haris Salve, appearing for Goswami, also sought interim protection from arrest, reported LiveLaw.
Further, he reportedly alleged that the Mumbai had “mala-fides” against Goswami and that they might arrest him anytime.
Salve, according to LiveLaw, claimed that the present FIR was the latest among actions by Maharashtra government to target and suppress Republic TV’s journalistic freedom.
WHAT DID KAPIL SIBAL SAY?
Kapil Sibal, appearing for Mumbai Police, on his part, contended that the petition was premature as the probe was at a very nascent stage.
Sibal also said that the issue of mala-fides was not relevant in a criminal investigation if there are incriminatory materials involved.
Further, he reportedly agreed that summons will be issued first to Goswami if he was to be named as an accused, but he was not committing that Goswami would not be arrested.
Sibal, according to LiveLaw, pointed out that Goswami was not entitled to ‘special privileges’ and he should seek anticipatory bail if he was apprehensive of arrest.
WHAT DID THE COURT SAY?
Directing Mumbai Police to issue summons to Goswami, if the officer probing the scam decides to name Goswami as an accused, the bench agreed to start the final hearing on petition on 5 November.
The bench also, according to LiveLaw asked Mumbai Police to produce the probe-related papers in a sealed cover on 4 November.
The bench further pointed out, in response to Salve’s prayer for interim protection from arrest for Goswami, that it was difficult to provide the same at the present stage, as Goswami had not yet been named an accused.
The bench further said that there was no question of arrests, if summons are issued. The court also noted, according to LiveLaw, that the police had issued summons to seven employees of Republic TV and observed that not one of them had been arrested so far.
The petitioners had first sought relief from the Supreme Court. But a bench, headed by Justice DY Chandrachud, asked them to go to the High Court.
The Mumbai Police on Thursday, 7 October, had addressed a press conference and said that it has busted a "TRP scam", whereby Television Rating Points (TRPs) were being manipulated. In the briefing, the Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh said that ratings by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), an organisation under the Ministry of Information and Broadcast (I&B), which measures television ratings in India, has been manipulated.
The police named Republic TV and two other Marathi channels who it said were involved in the practice. Four people have been arrested in connection with the matter.
(With inputs from HT and LiveLaw)
(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.