After the state government said it would not take any action against Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and other employees of ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd in the TRP fraud case until further hearing, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday accepted the statement and extended relief it granted from coercive action against the channel’s employees until the next hearing on January 15.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal for the state government told the court that it was agreeing to continue the assurance only due to the adjournment sought by Republic TV’s lawyer due to family medical emergency, and as it has found “serious evidence” in investigation, would not be willing to continue the assurance during the next hearing.
A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice M S Karnik was hearing a plea by the TV channel seeking the quashing of the FIR in the case.
The court, during an earlier hearing last month, was informed by the counsel for ARG Outlier and Goswami that they were “apprehensive” of the Mumbai Police arresting Goswami and other employees and, hence, sought interim relief restraining police from doing so till the next hearing.
The state government made a statement that no coercive action or steps would be taken against people referred to in the chargesheet filed by Mumbai Police till further hearing.
On Wednesday, advocate Niranjan Mundargi sought more time stating that senior counsel Ashok Mundargi, who would appear for the network, had to deal with a medical emergency in the family.
To which, Sibal responded, “I cannot possibly oppose this. We (state government) have found some serious evidence in our investigation with the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). I do not wish to continue my earlier statement. But because of this extreme emergency, I have agreed. I will not extend it beyond that date (next hearing.)” The state government, however, was free to continue the investigation, he submitted.
Sibal said the status report pertaining to the probe will be given to the court. The bench accepted the same and also permitted parties to the case to approach the court by giving notice to the other side, in case of any urgency.
In another case, the bench granted three weeks’ time to Goswami and other accused, Feroze Sheikh, to amend the pleas and challenge cognizance of chargesheet taken by Alibaug magistrate in the 2018 case of abetment to suicide of interior designer Anvay Naik.
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