TRP case: Mumbai police deny claims of Republic TV, Goswami

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Mumbai, Jan 29 (PTI) The Mumbai police has denied allegations of malice made by Republic TV and its editor-in- chief Arnab Goswami in the TRP scam case.

In two affidavits filed on Monday before a bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale, the Mumbai police said it had not falsely implicated anybody, including Goswami or other functionaries of Republic TV, in the case.

In the affidavits, filed through senior counsel Kapil Sibal, the police said it had received a legitimate complaint regarding the scam, and it had initiated a probe following a preliminary inquiry and an analytical report submitted by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC).

'Substantial evidence' was found against three TV news channels, including Republic TV, the police said.

The affidavits were filed in response to the plea of ARG Outlier Media, the company that runs Republic TV channels, which had approached HC last year seeking quashing of the criminal proceedings against the channel and Goswami.

The ARG plea had also urged HC to pass an order transferring the investigation from Mumbai Crime Branch to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

In its affidavits filed through police commissioner Param Bir Singh and ACP Shashank Sandbhor of the Crime Branch, the police said it had not targeted Republic TV or its employees, nor was the probe a result of political vendetta.

It said ARG's plea was not maintainable and did not deserve any relief from court. 'The allegations raised by Republic TV have been made only to escape the investigation and prosecution into the scam,' the police said.

The police further said it had summoned and charged employees of several other TV channels, but no one else had complained of malafide intent.

'The contention of the petitioners (ARG and Republic TV) is that Mumbai police harbour ill will and malice against the petitioners as the TV channels of the petitioners have questioned the investigation by Mumbai police in the Sushant Singh Rajput case and Palghar lynching incident,' read the affidavit by Singh.

The affidavit said Mumbai police was a 'professional police force' that did not let 'individual opinions affect its judgement'.

'I deny there is any concerted effort or political conspiracy as alleged,' his affidavit read.

The police further said an accused had no right to chose the investigating agency in a case.

It also said since the trial court had already taken cognizance of its charge sheet in the case, ARG had no right to seek that HC quash proceedings against it.

Defending press conferences held by the police after it unearthed the Television Rating Points scam, Singh, in his affidavit, said briefings were held as per the procedure and practice established in 'sensitive cases'.

ARG had also alleged that in arresting some of its employees, including Ghanshyam Singh, Republic TV's assistant vice president for distribution, the Mumbai police indulged in abuse of its powers.

Denying the allegations, police, in its affidavit, said, contrary to the channel's claims, Ghanshyam Singh had refused to cooperate with its probe.

The police also filed an affidavit in a related plea by Hansa Research Group, the complainant in the TRP case, seeking transfer of the probe to the CBI.

The police said Hansa approached HC with an 'ulterior motive' after the probe started to expose a 'nexus' between the research group and TV channels.

The TRP scam was uncovered earlier this year when BARC filed a complaint through Hansa about alleged rigging of viewership ratings. PTI AYA BNM BNM