10 Feb 2021 1:41 PM GMT
ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd. (company running Republic TV and R Bharat channels) has told the Bombay High Court that the investigation carried out by Mumbai Police in the TRP Scam case is guided by unparalleled political vendetta and a malicious witch hunt. In a rejoinder affidavit filed before the High Court on Tuesday, it is stated the Mumbai Police has failed to establish...
ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd. (company running Republic TV and R Bharat channels) has told the Bombay High Court that the investigation carried out by Mumbai Police in the TRP Scam case is guided by unparalleled political vendetta and a malicious witch hunt.
In a rejoinder affidavit filed before the High Court on Tuesday, it is stated the Mumbai Police has failed to establish any criminality on the part of the company or its Chief Arnab Goswami, and the charge sheet filed in the case does not disclose any incriminating evidence against them.
It is further contended that not a single shred of evidence of wrongdoing on part of the Petitioners is mentioned in the chargesheet and the Mumabi Police has named them only in order to wreak vengeance for their relentless reporting on the Palghar incident and the Sushant Singh Rajput case.
"While a series of canards have been uttered and spread regarding the Petitioners and its affiliates, there is still not a single shred of wrongdoing or any evidence, at all, that establishes any financial trail of inducement for buying/ manipulation/ doctoring of TRPs by the Petitioners," the company submitted.
The rejoinder comes in response to the counter-affidavit filed by the Mumbai Police in a writ petition filed by ARG Outlier and news anchor Arnab Goswami challenging the probe in TRP Scam case.
Investigating agencies functioning with preconceived notions
In its rejoinder affidavit, ARG Outlier has emphasized that the Chargesheet filed by the Mumbai Police names the owners/operators of Republic TV channel as 'suspects' (accused persons not chargesheeted).
"This nomenclature of 'suspect' in a Chargesheet is both unprecedented and illegal and exposes the fact that the investigating agencies are functioning with a preconceived notion and pre-scripted outcomes vis-a-vis the investigation, even as the law-and-order officers have failed to establish a single shred of evidence against the Petitioner in their Chargesheet," it submitted.
Labelling as 'accused' at this stage patently illegal & unconstitutional
It is submitted that as per well-established principles of law, a chargesheet can only name accused who are sent for trial, unknown accused or absconding accused and a suspect cannot be named in the Chargesheet.
Thus, it is contended that "Form 5-C, mentioning the owners/operators/ employees of Republic TV channel and their concerned / connected personnel under the column of particulars of accused person not charge-sheeted/suspects is illegal, arbitrary, unconstitutional and contrary to well established principles of law."
Outright violation of Constitutional & Fundamental Rights
It is submitted that the reference made to the Petitioners in suspect category as against particulars of persons not charge-sheeted (suspects) is in violation of their right to reputation and in contravention of Article 21 of the Constitution.
"It is well-settled principle of law that naming a person as 'suspect' in a chargesheet will inevitably and permanently damage his reputation and tarnish his image in the society," the rejoinder states.
False implication of key officials
It is stated that the company's key officials were falsely implicated during the course of investigation, and company's VP Ghanshyam Singh and CEO Vikas Khanchandani were baselessly arrested by the Mumbai Police despite the said employees offering full cooperation in the investigation, in a desperate attempt to pressurize them to implicate the Petitioners in the alleged TRP scam.
It is alleged that Ghanshyam Singh was even physically and mentally tortured in custody to falsely self-incriminate and falsely implicate his organisation.
Mumbai Police has no Jurisdiction to investigate TRP Manipulations
The Petitioners have contended that the aspect of placement of channels on dual LCN/ promotional LCN is strictly within the domain of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and it is alleged that Mumbai Police has failed to explain or provide any reason for investigating into issues which are within the exclusive domain of TRAI.
No evidence by Hansa Research Group to suggest Petitioners manipulated TRPs
The Petitioners said that the complainant, Hansa Research Group, had not named the Republic TV or its employees in its complaints. Nevertheless, Respondent 4, out of sheer malice and without proper investigation, implicated them in a press statement on October 8, 2020.
[TRP Scam] Our Complaint Was To Unearth TRP Scam Not Against Any Channel; Hansa Research Tells Bombay HC
Further, that Hansa Group itself disclosed that it as being intimidated by Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze and his team of Crime Branch, Mumbai police to make false statements against Republic TV.
The Mumbai Police registered an FIR on October 6, 2020, under sections 409, 420(cheating) & 120B (conspiracy).
The Mumbai Police had claimed that Partho Dasgupta had in alleged connivance with another ex-senior BARC official and Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, manipulated the television rating points (TRP) of Republic TV and its Hindi arm.
Only two employees of Republic TV including its CEO Vikas Khanchandani have been named in the two charge sheets filed, so far. Other accused include Romil Ramgarhia and Partho Dasgupta, former CCO and CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), respectively.
On January 30, the Mumbai police told the Bombay High Court that the investigation conducted so far in the TRP scam case has prima facie indicated collusion between officials of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) and others to manipulate TRP.
The matter was adjourned for hearing on February 12, 2021.