By LE Desk
Mumbai, March 17: The Bombay High Court asked the Mumbai police on Wednesday that since the latter claimed to have adequate evidence against Republic TV and its Editor-in- Chief Arnab Goswami in the alleged TRP scam, why had they not named them as accused in the case.
A bench of Justices S S Shinde and Manish Pitale directed Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Shishir Hiray to inform the court by Thursday whether the police plan to proceed against Goswami and Republic TV. It also asked Hiray to tell the court how much time were the police likely to take to complete the investigation into the case, news agency PTI reported.
“You are investigating for the last three months. There are two charge sheets, and there seems to be no evidence against them. And this FIR is of October 2020. We are in March 2021,” the HC said.
“Why keep the sword hanging on their head? You are not making them an accused also, why so?” it asked.
The bench was responding to submissions made by senior advocate Ashok Mundargi, the counsel for Goswami and ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd, the company that runs Republic TV channels.
Mundargi told the HC that the police had named Goswami and several employees of the ARG Outlier Media as suspects, but had no evidence to charge them as accused in the case.
“They (police) cannot keep investigating forever. If they have some material against us, they have to show us, they cannot keep playing hot and cold,” Mundargi said.
However, SPP Hiray said the police have adequate evidence in the case and that they are still “collecting” additional evidence.
“Then why not make them an accused? We do not think there is anything such as ‘suspect’ in criminal law,” the bench said.
The court said the contention of the petitioners, Goswami and the ARG Outlier Media, was that they were always under the fear that some action might be taken against them.
The HC will continue hearing the arguments on Thursday.
The ARG Outlier Media and Goswami approached the HC last year, filing a bunch of petitions seeking several reliefs in the Television Rating Points (TRP) scam.
They alleged that the whole case was malafide and they had been targeted for Republic TV’s reportage in connection with the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and Palghar lynching case last year.
The Mumbai police in January this year filed two affidavits in the case through Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh and ACP Shashank Sandbhor of the crime branch, saying they had not targeted the Republic TV or its employees.
The police had said their probe was not a result of any political vendetta and there was evidence to show that Goswami had connived with senior officials of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) to rig the TRP of Republic TV.
The Republic TV has denied any wrongdoing.