A magistrate court in Mumbai on Wednesday granted bail to Republic TV CEO Vikas Khanchandani, arrested in the TRP fraud case. Khanchandani, who was arrested on Sunday, was granted bail on cash surety of Rs 50,000 by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at Esplanade in Mumbai.
This came after sessions court Judge D E Kothalikar on December 14 made observations while hearing Republic TV CFO S Sundaram’s anticipatory bail plea apprehending his arrest by Mumbai Police.
The sessions court took exception over the haste in which Mumbai Police arrested Khanchandani and expressed displeasure over the manner in which the police chose to arrest him a day before his plea for anticipatory bail was scheduled for hearing. “What was the urgency to arrest him like this a day before, when the application was sub-judice?” the judge had asked Special Public Prosecutor Sishir Hirey.
Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch on Sunday had arrested Khanchandani in the TRP case, taking the total number of arrests to 13. The Mumbai metropolitan magistrate court later remanded Khanchandani in police custody for two days. Khanchandani on Tuesday was remanded to judicial custody for 14 days.
The investigators had alleged that Khanchandani was part of an internal WhatsApp group in which discussions on Logical Channel Number (LCN) would take place.
LCN is an identification number assigned to a TV channel, and the allegations against the Republic TV CEO are that it allegedly used dual LCN, which allowed it to show up in the genre of ‘kids channels’, apart from the ‘news channels’ category, thus showing up at two places. Investigators have claimed that Khanchandani knew about these alleged LCN manipulations.
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Mumbai Police told the court that it wished to question Khanchandani to understand alleged payments made to multi-system operators and cable operators to boost TRP ratings.
Meanwhile, Mumbai Police on Tuesday assured the sessions court that it will not arrest Sundaram in the case till December 21.
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