The Hansa Research Group has filed a writ petition before the Bombay High Court alleging pressure and intimidation tactics being used by Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze and his team of Crime Branch, Mumbai police to make false statements against Republic TV and sought a transfer of investigation in relation to the FIR filed in the TRP scam case to CBI or state CID.
Hansa Research Group along with its Director, Narsimhan Swamy and CEO Pravin Nijhara and DGM Nitin Deokar who is also the informant in this case, filed the petition impleading Sachin Vaze, Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh and Chief investigating Officer Prashant Sandbhor as respondents in the matter along with State of Maharashtra and CBI.
Last month, the City Civil and Sessions Court rejected Hansa Group's request to restrain Republic TV from referring to their 'internal report', popularly known as the 'Hansa Report' which was prepared along with the Vigilance Team of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) in order to file a police complaint in the TRP scam case. However, the said report was referred to by Arnab Goswami and others on his channel. Court refused to grant relief stating that the said report was already in public domain.
From October 12 onwards, petitioners have claimed that representatives of Hansa Group have been regularly visiting the police and are being detained for hours without any reason. Even though one of the petitioners is the informant in this case.
However, the petitioners have alleged in their fresh petition that 'encounter specialist' Sachin Vaze and his team are threatening them with arrest in order to pressurize them to make false statements against Republic TV. the petition states-
"All the harassment that has been caused to the petitioners by Sachin Vaze is only with the view to extract a statement albeit false, from them that the above said Hansa Report shown on Republic TV is not that of petitioners but a fake one. Whereas it is a fact that petitioners have repeatedly explained to Sachin Vaze and his team that it is not clear to them what this purported Hansa Report claimed by Republic TV in its telecast is, as till date Republic TV has neither sought any permission from the petitioner for using something they are calling as 'Hansa Report' in its telecast nor have they shared what the said document is."
Petitioners contended that unless the purported report was physically shown to them and in order to be compared with in original internal note, they can neither confirm nor deny what was shown on TV.
However, Sachin Vaze and his team is not ready to take anything short of a statement by petitioners disowning the purported report shown on Republic TV and thus are pressurizing, threatening and harassing petitioners with arrest, indefinite detention and seizure of their mobile phones, petitioners contend.
Moreover, it is pointed out that on October 27, 2020 a news was published on Midday.com with the headline, 'TRP Scam: Suspicious transactions between Hansa and Republic TV under SIT scanner'. Among other things the news report had quoted Respondent number 1 (Sachin Vaze) as saying that they have received a preliminary forensic audit report showing suspicious transactions of Rs 32 lakhs between Hansa Research Group and Republic TV. Same news report has also quoted another senior crime branch officer as saying that the monetary transaction between Republic TV and Hansa is very crucial for the investigation.
Petitioners have vehemently denied any such transaction with Republic TV and said that one of its subsidiaries, Hansa Vision had a simple business transaction with the channel-
"This is normal, routine business the last time Hansa Vision had purchased advertising time in Republic TV was two years ago for the period from September 2017 to October 2018 for a value of Rs 1.08 crores. The Mumbai Police is perhaps incorrectly linking this with the current TRP related investigation."
Petitioners have questioned the "illegal and highly objectionable" conduct of Sachin Vaze and team, resorting to 'illegal methods' in treating the petitioners with great bias and prejudice, contrary to provisions laid down in the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Furthermore, Hansa Group has argued that they are being used in this fight between Mumbai police and "certain section of media"-
"It is a known fact that there is a battle like situation between Mumbai police and certain section of the media for the last few months where open war of words can be seen and heard everyday. It is very evident that the petitioners are being used by the police and certain sections of the media as means to attack each other and petitioners are suffering from collateral damage in this fight.
As if the above is not enough to further pressurize the petitioners they have been constantly threatened by Sachin Vaze and his team for booking them for an offence of lodging a false complaint only because they have named one channel in the FIR, that too not as an accused, and not named other TV channels. There has been a constant threat by Sachin Vaze that he will arrest petitioners for being hand in glove with Republic TV."
Finally, petitioners have sought transfer of probe to CBI or any other agency Court may deem fit and directions to Mumbai police not to take coercive action against them