Mumbai, October 19: The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Mumbai Police to issue summons to Republic TV chief Arnab Goswami, if he is proposed to be added as an accused in the FIR in the TRP (Television Rating Point) manipulation case.
A Division Bench of Justices S.S. Shinde and M.S. Karnik was hearing a criminal petition filed by ARG Outlier Media Private Limited and Goswami, who is the managing director and editor-in-chief of Republic Media Network.
The plea seeks to quash the FIR registered by Kandivali Police Station against them on October 6. The charges have been made under Sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing on behalf of Goswami, argued that Mumbai Police had mala fide interest, that they might arrest Goswami, and sought interim protection from arrest, to which the court said it could not pass that order as Goswami had not been named as an accused, The Hindu reported.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the Maharashtra government and Mumbai Police, said summons would be issued to Goswami. However, he [Sibal] could not commit on Goswami not being arrested.
While perusing the FIR, the court said, “It is not an encyclopedia. We would like to peruse the investigation papers and see what probe has been done from today till the next date of hearing.
The court added, “In case the Investigating Officer proposes to name Mr. Goswami as accused in the case, then, as done with the eight persons, summons shall be issued to him and he shall then cooperate with the police.”
The court also raised questions on whether it was correct on the part of the Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh to hold press conferences in such matters.
The Bench said, “We don’t know if it is the correct method or procedure to give interviews to the media. We are not talking about just this matter but many sensitive cases…we find police giving information to the media even when investigation is in progress. Police are not supposed to reveal incriminating information pertaining to the case.”
Sibal agreed to this and said the petitioner channel should assure the court it would not indulge in the vilification of the police and conduct a media trial.
Justice Shinde then said, “Media is considered as the fourth pillar of democracy and, hence, they too need to behave responsibly.”
The court directed the Mumbai Police to produce papers of the investigation in a sealed cover on November 4, and said it would hear the matter on November 5.