31 Jan 2021 11:13 AM GMT
Hansa Research Group, the complainant in the Television Rating Points Scam (TRP Scam) has sought to transfer the investigation into the scam, from the Mumbai Police to the CBI, only after realising its "nexus" with the accused TV channels was being investigated, the Mumbai Police has said in an affidavit to the Bombay High Court. Five of the 15 people arrested by the Mumbai Police...
Hansa Research Group, the complainant in the Television Rating Points Scam (TRP Scam) has sought to transfer the investigation into the scam, from the Mumbai Police to the CBI, only after realising its "nexus" with the accused TV channels was being investigated, the Mumbai Police has said in an affidavit to the Bombay High Court.
Five of the 15 people arrested by the Mumbai Police in the TRP Scam are former employees of Hansa Research Group and two other former senior officers of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), the affidavit states. Hansa Research was hired to install Bar-o-meters in select households to gauge the viewing pattern of television programmes.
The police has claimed that the crux of the Hansa's allegations is that they were pressurised by the Mumbai Police to deny an October 10, 2020 report aired on Republic TV, called the "Hansa Report." The report was cited by Republic TV to distance itself from the TRP Scam, saying that the report showed name the name of a different news channel allegedly involved in rigging TRPs.
However, Hansa Research had approached the City Civil Court seeking a declaration and permanent injunction against Republic TV from broadcasting or referring to the 'Hansa Report', calling it a "draft internal document."
The Mumbai Police has said that since the report has been specifically denied by Hansa "on oath", there was no reason to put any kind of pressure on them to deny that report.
"It is submitted that the Petitioners for their vested reasons and ulterior motives have been taking contrary stand so as to seek stay of the investigation only after realising that the Respondents are investigating the nexus between the Petitioner and the accused TV Channels," the affidavit reads.
The Mumbai Police has also cited the case of Divine Retreat Centre v. State of Kerala, (2008) 3 SCC 542 to oppose the prayer for transfer of investigation. "It is submitted that investigation of an offence is the field exclusively reserved for the police whose powers in that field are unfettered so long as the power to investigate into cognisable offences is legitimately exercised in strict compliance with the provisions of the Code," the affidavit reads.
The affidavit states that just because Hansa is the complainant in the case, it cannot seek immunity from investigation. "It is submitted that the Petitioners contention that since complainant they are immune from any enquiry or interrogation, is totally incorrect and contrary to the settled legal position."
The reply states that even ARG Outlier Media's (which runs Republic TV) petition, against the Mumbai Police seeks similar reliefs and therefore, "The Respondent verily apprehends that the instant Petition has been filed only to support and aid ARG Outlier and to somehow protect them from prosecution."
On Friday Hansa Research Group Pvt Ltd responded to the Mumbai Police in a counter affidavit to say that allegations of harassment and intimidation meted out to Hansa were specifically made against the Investigating officer, Sachin Waze, who has not come forward to even deny the allegations, which "prima facie establishes the allegations."
The affidavit further states that any connection being drawn between Hansa Research and ARG Outlier is a figment of the agency's imagination.
It reiterates that the Mumbai Police is trying to pressurise and marr the reputation of Hansa Research, as "an outcome of the petitioners refusal to make a statement against said ARG Outlier Pvt Ltd."
Explaining their role, the affidavit claims that it is the BARC which measures TRPs on the basis of "Bar-o-meters," which are connected to the television sets, in certain households and are allotted by Meterology Data Pvt Ltd. "It is thus clear that the petitioners have no knowledge on the information collected, forwarded, processed at BARC and the action was taken by them."
The affidavit further claims that it should be borne in mind that Hansa is the complainant, not the accused in the case. The TRP Scam investigation is a result of Hansa's termination of one of its research managers, after they realised something was fishy and reported him to the police, the affidavit states.
"Whatever investigation or the so-called unearthing of fraud that has been done by the police, it is petitioner (Hansa) who has to be given a small credit for the same for setting the law in motion. Sadly, the petitioners are facing all the unwarranted trauma and harassment at the hands of Respondent No. 1 (Waze)..." the counter affidavit states, adding that the employees had already been terminated and the police was informed once they found something was fishy.
The case will now be heard on February 26, 2021 for reliefs sought by Hansa Research.