The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Mumbai Police to submit a further progress report in the TRP scam case in a sealed cover while adjourning hearing a petition filed by ARG Outlier Media Private Limited, which runs Republic TV, seeking quashing of the FIR in the case and summons issued to its senior officials.
The court allowed the petitioners to make CBI a party to the case and issued a notice to the central agency to respond to the plea.
A Division Bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice M S Karnik, which is hearing the case, had on October 19 told the Mumbai Police to submit its investigation papers related to the case in a sealed cover by November 4.
Thursday also saw ARG Outlier and Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, while demanding a CBI probe in the TRP scam case, filing a fresh application seeking directions to stay the Mumbai Police probe into the case.
Questioning the October 21 decision of the Maharashtra government to withdraw “general consent” to the CBI, the plea said this was done in apprehension that the agency would take up cases being probed by the Maharashtra Police and that it was a “hurried” order issued to “block CBI”.
Earlier, the court had told the Mumbai Police that if it proposes to arraign Goswami in the TRP (television rating points) case, it should first issue summons to him. The bench on Thursday said its previous order will continue till further hearing.
In a petition filed last month, after the Supreme Court asked Republic TV to first approach the HC in the TRP scam case, the channel has sought an interim stay on the investigation. The plea had also urged the court to direct the Mumbai Police not to take any coercive steps against the channel or its employees, including their investigation and questioning.
Saying that the Mumbai Police was “determined to falsely implicate” the channel and “silence news reporting” done by it, the petition asked for the case to be transferred to the CBI. It added that the FIR lodged was a violation of the fundamental rights of speech and expression, and sought disciplinary proceedings against Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh for “gross dereliction of duty and abuse of power”.
The court on Thursday noted that it has perused the investigation papers and since the probe was in progress, it directed the investigation officer of the Mumbai Police to submit a further progress report in a sealed envelope. It posted further hearing to November 25.
Further, the bench said that it will hear on Friday a plea by Hansa Research group, whose employees have been arrested in TRP scam case, seeking transfer of the probe from the Mumbai Police Crime Branch to the CBI.
In the plea, Hansa has alleged that its employees were harassed by police officers to make false statements “to suit the designs of the crime branch”. It added that such harassment is being meted out as Hansa employees declined to give a statement to the effect that one “Hansa report” flashed by Republic TV was fake.
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