The Mumbai Police on Friday served a second notice to Republic TV for allegedly inciting disaffection among its personnel against Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh, The Indian Express reported. The police asked the channel for details of its output desk.
The police said in a press release that they questioned four editors of the news channel, according to the newspaper.
“During the questioning of Shivani Gupta (senior associate editor), we have learnt that she has read out the contents that she received from the output shift in charge or output desk on the teleprompter software,” an unidentified official told the newspaper. The official added that the channel was asked to provide details of its output desk and shift-in-charge.
Republic TV, meanwhile, claimed that the police had asked for “each and every detail” of its news desk. “The Param Bir Singh-led Mumbai Police has now sent a notice effectively seeking each and every detail of the Republic news desk, including addresses of the technicians of Republic TV, IDs and passwords of newsroom software, roster details of its journalists,” he news channel said in a statement.
The channel added that it was given two days to provide these details. It called the notice a “shameful trespass of free speech.”
Republic TV claimed that its Deputy Editor Shawan Sen, Executive Editor Niranjan Narayanaswamy and Output Editors Sagarika Mitra and Shivani Gupta were questioned about a story on Mumbai police officials being upset with the commissioner. It added that the police also sought the TV channel’s financial details.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Vishwas Nagre Patil refuted Republic TV claims. “We have served them a second notice but did not ask them for as many detail as they are claiming,” he told The Indian Express.
Last week, the Mumbai Police had filed a fresh first information report against Republic TV and booked its executive editor, anchor, two reporters and other editorial staff members in the case. The FIR, the fourth registered by the Mumbai Police against Republic TV, was filed by the Special Branch-1, the intelligence wing of the force, at the NM Joshi Marg Police Station.
The complainant was Shashikant Pawar, a sub-inspector who works at the Social Media Lab of the Mumbai Police.
The Social Media Lab monitors content on social media platforms and television channels, including identifying posts, fake news, rumours and other content that has potential to create unrest or communal violence in Mumbai.
The FIR said that officials at the Social Media Lab found that on October 10, Republic TV telecast a show under the segment Biggest Story Tonight, with the caption: “Revolt Against Param Bir Singh? Senior officer part of the probe gives details”. Incidentally, on October 22, Republic World website ran a story: “Revolt Brewing Within Mumbai Police Against Param Bir Singh; Officers Lash Out Off Record”.
The report claimed that a senior officer in the Mumbai Police had said Singh was “bent on destroying the credibility of the force”, and admitted that the force was pursuing its chief’s agenda against Republic TV in the Television Rating Points scam case.
“By broadcasting such content, the channel and its journalists intentionally tried to incite disaffection among the police personnel against the police commissioner and the act also maligns Mumbai Police’s image,” the complainant said in the FIR. The show was anchored by Gupta and Mitra based on information obtained by Sen.
Republic TV is being investigated following accusations of manipulation of Television Rating Points, along with Box Cinema and Marathi channel Fakt Marathi.