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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

TRP manipulation case: HC asks Mumbai Police why Goswami, Republic TV not named as accused

The court also asked the police to inform whether it wants to investigate further, how long it needs to do so and if it wants to proceed against Goswami and Republic TV.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: March 17, 2021 9:55:33 pm
Republic TV, TRP scam, Arnab GoswamiRepublic TV Editor-In-Chief Arnab Goswami (File photo)

After being informed that even after over three months, investigations had not yielded anything concrete in the Television Rating Programme (TRP) manipulation case, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the Mumbai Police why it had not named Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and ARG Outlier Media Private Limited, which runs the channel, in the case despite claims of having adequate evidence against them.

“You have been investigating for the last three months. There are two chargesheets and there seems to be no evidence against them. And this FIR (was lodged) in October 2020. We are in March 2021,” the HC said.

“Why keep the sword hanging on their head? You are not making them an accused also, why so?” it added.

The court also asked the police to inform whether it wants to investigate further, how long it needs to do so and if it wants to proceed against Goswami and Republic TV.

A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale was hearing a plea filed by ARG Outlier Media — which runs Republic TV and other channels — and Goswami, challenging the police probe, FIR, court proceedings and chargesheets while seeking the transfer of the same to the Central Bureau of Investigation or any other independent agency.

Goswami’s counsel on Tuesday had told the court that the FIR and the chargesheets filed by Mumbai Police were solely intended to target his client for his earlier reportage against the Maharashtra government.

Senior counsel Ashok Mundargi, appearing for ARG Outlier Media, on Wednesday said that while other channels had also been named, the police were only interrogating Republic TV employees and the channel’s role in the case. He added that though the Mumbai Police had been investigating for nearly four months, it has been unable to get any evidence to book the channel or Goswami.

He told the court that while the police had named Goswami and several employees of the ARG Outlier Media as “wanted suspects”, it had no evidence to book them as accused.

“They (police) cannot keep investigating forever. If they have some material against us, they have to show it to us, they cannot keep playing hot and cold,” Mundargi argued.

He said that the contention of the petitioners was that they are always living in fear that some action will be against them despite not being named as accused and therefore, the proceedings in the case should be quashed.

However, Special Public Prosecutor Shishir Hiray, appearing for the Maharashtra government, said that the police have adequate evidence and are still collecting additional evidence. He added that Mumbai Police is investigating an industry worth Rs 30,000 crore and would require some time to probe.

“Then why not make them accused? We do not think there is anything such as suspects in criminal law,” the HC said.

The court sought to know from the police how much more time it needed to investigate the case and whether it wants to proceed against the petitioners and respond during the next hearing on Thursday.

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