Republic TV on Wednesday moved the National Human Rights Commission against the “spine-chilling ordeal of torture” of the news channel’s Assistant Vice President Ghanshyam Singh, Bar and Bench reported. Singh was arrested on November 10 in connection with the Television Rating Points scam. Republic TV faces allegations of rigging numbers to ramp up its viewership.
“There is not a shred of doubt that the Mumbai Police acted in an abusive, malafide and motivated manner during Mr Ghanshyam’s custody,” the letter to the NHRC said. “Apart from the physical torture inflicted upon him, in a brazen violation of human rights and in an assault on the right to a fair trial, Singh was constantly psychologically tormented to self-implicate and incriminate his organisation in a prejudged case despite being innocent.”
The news channel said that Singh’s “personal dignity was shred to smithereens”, and that the police showed “horrendous overreach and a complete trampling” of due procedure when he was in custody. “As part of a witch-hunt against Republic Media Network and in an attempt to fix investigations in a prejudged manner, now all semblance of due process has been shunned and devious means of torture are being resorted to,” Republic TV added in its letter.
A fake TRP racket was uncovered in October when the Broadcast Audience Research Council filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group – one of BARC’s vendors on engagement with panel homes, or “people’s meters”. Some of the channels were accused of rigging their TRPs by bribing some households to watch it. Apart from Republic TV, Box Cinema and Marathi channel Fakt Marathi were the others named during preliminary investigation. Several Republic TV officials have been questioned in the matter.
On Tuesday, Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami moved the Bombay High Court seeking a stay on the Mumbai Police’s investigations into the scam. The petition, filed by Goswami and ARG Outlier Media, which owns Republic TV, alleged that Singh was subjected to custodial torture. Singh 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.
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.