Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami on Tuesday moved the Bombay High Court seeking a stay on the Mumbai Police’s investigations into the alleged Television Rating Points manipulation scam, reported PTI. Republic TV is among the channels that have been accused of rigging numbers to ramp up its viewership.
The petition, filed by Goswami and ARG Outlier Media, which owns Republic TV, alleged that one of the employees of the firm was subjected to custodial torture. Ghanshyam Singh, Republic TV’s distribution head, was arrested on November 10 and “tortured, beaten and harassed in custody”, the plea alleged. Singh, who is also the assistant vice president of Republic Media Network, was granted bail last week.
The channel sought protection for all its employees from the “malicious witch hunt” allegedly being carried out by the Maharashtra government. It claimed the police was working in a “pre-determined manner to falsely implicate” Goswami and others from ARG Media by “influencing witnesses, and extracting false statements against the petitioners”.
The court should, therefore, transfer the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation or any other independent agency, the petition said.
On December 7, the Supreme Court had refused to entertain a petition filed by ARG Outlier Media and Goswami seeking protection for all employees of the organisation from coercive action by the Maharashtra Police in cases filed against them. In that plea, too, the media group alleged continuous hounding of its employees by the state police and asked to quash all first information reports lodged against them, or transfer them to the CBI.
A fake TRP racket was uncovered earlier in October when the Broadcast Audience Research Council filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group, alleging that certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers. Hansa Research is one of BARC’s vendors on engagement with panel homes, or “people’s meters”. Several Republic TV officials, including Goswami, have been questioned in the matter.
Apart from Republic TV, Box Cinema and Marathi channel Fakt Marathi were the others named during preliminary investigation.
Republic TV has repeatedly claimed that the summons to its top editors in the TRP scam were part of a “desperate witch hunt” . They have also accused the police of pursuing an agenda against free press. In October, the channel had said it would sue Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh for Rs 200 crore for allegedly damaging its reputation by linking it to the case.