The Bombay High Court on Saturday issued notices to Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh and two other officers to respond to the plea by Hansa Research Group, seeking the transfer of ‘TRP scam’ case probe from the Mumbai Police Crime Branch to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
As interim relief, the court directed Mumbai Police to call Hansa’s employees for inquiry only two days in a week for a ‘reasonable time’ until the next hearing. A division bench of Justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik was hearing a plea by Hansa Research Group, complainant in the case, which has alleged that its employees were harassed by police officers to make false statements “to suit the designs of the crime branch”. The plea also sought from the court to restrain crime branch officers from summoning Hansa employees.
Hansa had added that its employees were being harassed as they had declined to give a statement to the effect that a purported “Hansa report” that was being reported by Republic TV was fake. Along with Mumbai Police commissioner, the petition named Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze and Assistant Police Commissioner Shashank Sandbhor as allegedly harassing Hansa employees.
“This is a unique situation where the first informant in the crime is being harassed by the investigating agency and treated like an accused only for a false statement …petitioners are being used by police and media to attack each other,” the plea said. The plea also alleged that Vaze and crime branch officers have started ‘a campaign of making statements to the media based on false and unverified facts’.
On Saturday, senior counsel C S Vaidyanathan for Hansa Research submitted that it did not make sense for the police to call the petitioner’s employees everyday for questioning and Hansa is ready to provide any document required by the crime branch. He said that police were ‘unnecessarily’ calling and keeping the staff for inquiry for nearly seven to eight hours a day.
Senior advocate Devadatt Kamat for Mumbai Police commissioner refuted the allegations and said that the petitioner was being ‘unfair’ with the court and was playing ‘hide and seek’ with the investigation. Justice Shinde said that it will examine submissions by the petitioner and said, “…in the interregnum, you (police) cannot call them (Hansa employees) everyday. They are complainants not accused.”
“We are not harassing them, we will strictly investigate. They should not dictate timings,” Kamat responded. “It does not mean you keep them for inquiry from morning to evening. Keep some fixed timing till the next date of hearing,” Justice Shinde said.
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