11 Dec 2020 12:48 PM GMT
The Chief Executive Officer of ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd (owner of Republic TV & Republic Bharat) Vikas Khanchandani and its Chief Financial Officer Sivasubramanian Sundaram moved Sessions Court, Mumbai on Thursday seeking anticipatory bail in the fake TRP scam case registered by the Mumbai police apprehending arrest.An internal report was prepared by Hansa Research Group along with...
The Chief Executive Officer of ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd (owner of Republic TV & Republic Bharat) Vikas Khanchandani and its Chief Financial Officer Sivasubramanian Sundaram moved Sessions Court, Mumbai on Thursday seeking anticipatory bail in the fake TRP scam case registered by the Mumbai police apprehending arrest.
An internal report was prepared by Hansa Research Group along with the Vigilance Team of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) investigating malpractices by some channels in obtaining fake Television Rating Points. Relying on the report, an employee of Hansa Research filed a complaint and an FIR was registered for offences punishable under Sections 409, 420, 120 B, 465, 468, 406, 174, 179, 201, 204, 212 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code at Kandivali police station and the investigation was transferred to the Crime Branch Unit, Mumbai.
Both the applicants have been questioned by the Mumbai police in relation to the said FIR. While the CEO claims to have undergone 20 hours of "semi custodial interrogation", the CFO has undergone 45 hours of "semi custodial interrogation". Both the applications state-
"The entire interrogation of the applicant was an exercise to pressurise him, intimidate him and essentially harass him into churning out falsehoods to implicate ARG and Arnab Goswami. The applicant fears that, despite having continuously co-operated, he will be arrested in the case for the sole reason that he did not spin mistruths, despite the incessant pressure deployed and unparalleled levels of harassment meted out to the Applicant, to enable the pre-determined, pre-judged and baseless narrative of the respondent so as to implicate a news organisation that has been seeking accountability from the respondent."
Apprehension Of Arrest
Applicants have alleged that the Mumbai police's conduct and line of questioning in the case despite full cooperation by them smacks of mala fides-
"The malice of the respondent became evident from the manner in which the Crime Branch has been conducting their investigation in the TRP manner. After a lapse of almost two months from being first summoned in relation to the said FIR, the Applicant for the first time in December has now started receiving notices under Section 41A of CrPC, under the false pretext that there were grounds to question the Applicant."
Moreover, the applicants cite the example of Republic TV COO, who was granted bail on Friday by the Sessions Court-
"Applicant's apprehension of arrest is also borne from the fact that in a similar case where the Applicant's colleague one Miss Priya Mukherjee was being questioned and interrogated, Ms Mukherjee was similarly ill-treated by the police officials despite showing full co-operation. She was also attempted to be arrested by the Crime Branch when a few officers of the Crime Branch Mumbai along with the local police in Bengaluru, on November 20 visited the residence of the Applicant more likely with the intention of arresting her."
Mukherjee was granted transit bail of 20 days by the Karnataka High Court, following which she moved Sessions Court, Mumbai.
Interestingly, Hansa Research Group has also filed a writ petition before the Bombay High Court alleging that Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze and his team of Crime Branch, Mumbai police are using pressure and intimidation tactics to compel them to make false statements against Republic TV in the fake TRP Scam case and sought a transfer of investigation in relation to the said case to CBI or state CID.