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Monday, April 19, 2021

TRP ‘manipulation’ case: Agencies in welfare state should be reasonable, probes can’t go on for years, says Bombay HC

A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale was hearing a plea filed by ARG Outlier and Goswami, challenging the police probe, FIR, court proceedings and chargesheets filed by the Mumbai Police.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
March 19, 2021 1:53:37 am
The bench said that the investigation into the case cannot go on forever and the agency must stop at some stage.

The Bombay High Court on Thursday observed that investigation agencies belonging to state or central governments should maintain a reasonable approach, as faith of the public in them depended on it.

The observation came after the Maharashtra government, while responding to the query why Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and ARG Outlier Media Private Limited – which runs the channel – have not named as accused in Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation case despite claims of there being evidence against them, told HC that it had right to continue with the probe.

A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale was hearing a plea filed by ARG Outlier and Goswami, challenging the police probe, FIR, court proceedings and chargesheets filed by the Mumbai Police.

The bench said that the investigation into the case cannot go on forever and the agency must stop at some stage. “There is a concept of a welfare state. Reasonable parameters should be there. State on its own has to stop at one place/stage. It cannot go on for years. These are not offences (bodily offences) such as Narendra Dabholkar murder case, wherein investigation is still going on from 2013 to 2021…,” Justice S S Shinde said.

Chief Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare, appearing for the Maharashtra government, said the police will investigate as it has the right to probe and some material in the case. To this, Justice Shinde observed: “Investigation is going on for the past three months, prima facie there seems to be nothing against them (petitioners).”

Justice Pitale said that if the state is reasonable, it would have said that it will lodge a complaint against petitioners in 30 days and if not, will come before the court, apologise and seek extension. “That is how reasonableness is shown,” he added.

Justice Shinde said, “In a democratic setup, what is most important is the faith of the common citizen in the system and to continue to have it, the test of reasonability and objectivity should be kept in force. Common people are the best judge of investigations. If not we are heading to another kind of system… Therefore, when are you (police) going to end this investigation? We are not asking for stipulated time because it is not provided in law. Tomorrow, we are bound to ask such questions to any investigating agency appearing before us.”

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