The City Civil & Sessions Court in Mumbai on Wednesday refused to grant ad-interim relief against Republic TV and its Chief Arnab Goswami in a civil suit filed by Hansa Research Group Pvt Ltd seeking permanent injunction restraining the Defendants from referring to the internal report prepared by the plaintiff along with the Vigilance Team of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) or any other internal document of the plaintiff.
Additional Sessions Judge CV Marathe heard Advocate ND Jaywant for the plaintiff and Advocate Pradeep Ghandy instructed by Phoenix Legal for ARG Oulier Pvt Ltd and Arnab Goswami. Court refused temporary injunction sought in the plaint.
Advocate Jaywant raised questions about Republic TV claiming possession of an internal document prepared by the plaintiffs along with BARC's Vigilance Team, referred to by Arnab Goswami in Republic TV's telecast on October 10 as the 'Hansa Report'.
On the other hand, Adv Ghandy argued that the suit was not maintainable and asserted that the channel has a right to broadcast the report and questioned why BARC was not made a party in the case.
While the Court refused to pass any order granting interim relief at this juncture, the matter has been adjourned to November 25 for further hearing.
According to the plaintiffs, (BARC) commissioned the services of the plaintiffs in 2014 to be a part of TV Audience Measurement process by installing 'Bar-o-meters', which are electronic meters to measure who is watching which channel.
The plaint states-
"The plaintiff states that since the tariffs for advesrtisement are based on viewership data, there are instances that certain channels attempt to manipulate their viewership data. In order to overcome this misuse, the vigilance team of BARC and the Plaintiff are constantly monitoring for any wrongdoing to influence viewers to watch a particular channel to boost the viewership data of that channel.
During investigations by the Vigilance Team of BARC with the help of the plaintiff, it was found that one Mr.Vishal Bhandari, ex-employee of the Plaintiff was inducing the viewers to watch some particular channels. Hence the Plaintiff through its Deputy General manager Nitin Deokar filed a police complaint on October 6 with Kandivali Police Station which was registered as FIR No.843 of 2020 on October 6.
The Plaintiff states that in order to prepare the said complaint, the BARC Vigilance Team along with the plaintiff had prepared an internal document as a draft detailing the facts of this case. This document was not shared by the Plaintiff with anybody but the the Vigilance Team of BARC."
Thereafter, the plaintiffs also contend that after Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh's press conference on October 8 announcing that police are investigating the Television Rating Point Scam and naming Republic TV as one of the channels being investigated in the said scam, Arnab Goswami in a Republic TV telecast on October 10 showed a document on the screen "again and again"calling it the 'Hansa Report' and alleging that its not Republic TV's name on the report but some other channel. Plaintiffs also contend-
"The Defendant No.2 was attempting to declare the Defendants as innocent on the basis of said Document referred to by the Defendant No.2 as Hansa Report. It is not clear to the Plaintiff as to what this Document referred to the by the Defendant No.2 as 'Hansa Report' is, as it has not been shared by the Defendant with the Plaintiff."
Stating that the said report was never meant for public consumption and was actually meant for the officers of Hansa and Vigilance Team of BARC, the plaint goes on to contend that the Plaintiff is being dragged in the controversy between Mumbai police and Republic TV although they were in no way concerned with the same.
Thus, the plaintiffs sought a declaration from the Court that the Defendants have no rights of nature whatsoever to refer in any of their broadcast to any document of the plaintiff being referred by the Defendants as 'Hansa Report.'