The Bombay High Court on Wednesday allowed ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd, which runs Republic TV, to amend its petition so as to challenge the chargesheet filed by Mumbai Police in the fake TRP case. The company had filed a petition for quashing the FIR registered by the Mumbai Police in the case and summons issued to its senior officials.
The High Court also continued an interim relief through which it directed the Mumbai Police to summon employees of Hansa Research Group, complainant in the case, for inquiry only two days a week for a “reasonable time” until the next hearing. The company had asked for the probe to be transferred to the CBI.
On November 5, a division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice M S Karnik, which is hearing the case, directed the Mumbai Police to submit a progress report in the TRP scam case in a sealed cover, which it took on record on Wednesday. The court also allowed the petitioners to make the CBI a party to the case and issued notices to the central agency to respond to the plea.
On Monday, the Mumbai Police Crime Branch filed a 1,400-page chargesheet in the case, naming six channels, including those of Republic Media Network and News Nation, as allegedly paying money to boost TRPs for around two years.
On Wednesday, senior counsel Aabad Ponda, representing Republic TV, sought leave to amend the plea with challenges to the chargesheet. He sought a short adjournment to hear the amended plea on Friday.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the state government, objected to Ponda’s submission and said the petitioners should place on record the grounds on which the chargesheet is sought to be challenged so that the government can get an opportunity to respond.
Sibal said, “Every matter of Arnab Goswami cannot be fast-tracked like this. He is an ordinary litigant and not an extraordinary citizen. I don’t understand what this procedure is.”
The HC allowed time to the petitioners to amend the plea till Friday and serve a copy to the state government so that it can respond to it. The bench noted, “We have allowed the petition to be amended subject to the reply and contentions of the state on amendment. Petitioners can amend without causing prejudice to the right of respondents (state).”
While the lawyers sought for the matter to be fixed for hearing next week, the bench said, “If we fix a time, then other litigants say we give fixed timings only for certain matters.”
Sibal also sought that Republic TV should not start a “parallel investigation” on its channel about the chargesheet till the next hearing. The court, however, asked the state government to submit an application in that regard to enable the channel to file the reply. Ponda responded that he would take instructions from Republic TV over this issue and make a statement at the next hearing. The court will hear the pleas on December 2.
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