The Mumbai Police on Sunday arrested Republic TV Chief Executive Officer Vikas Khanchandani in connection with the alleged television ratings manipulation case, NDTV reported. He is the 13th person to be arrested in the scam.
Republic TV said that it will move the Holiday court against the arrest. Senior advocate KK Manan demanded the intervention of the courts to take suo moto cognisance of the arrest of the Republic TV CEO.
Arnab Goswami, the editor-in-chief of the news channel, condemned the arrest, asking if it was constitutional. “If the matter comes under TRAI [Telecom Regulatory Authority of India], why is the Mumbai Police arresting our CEO Vikas Khanchandani?” he asked. The news channel’s lawyer MR Venkatesh has also sought the immediate intervention of the Supreme Court.
ANI’s Editor Smita Prakash urged the executive, legislature and judiciary to come together in support of Indian media.
On Tuesday, Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Goswami had 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 its Assistant Vice President Ghanshyam Singh was subjected to custodial torture following his arrest on November 10. The channel also sought protection for all its employees from the “malicious witch hunt” allegedly being carried out by the Maharashtra government. It had also moved the National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday against the alleged torture of Singh.
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.
The Mumbai Police lodged a first information report on October 6.
Apart from Republic TV, Box Cinema and Marathi channel Fakt Marathi were the others named during the preliminary investigation. Several Republic TV officials have been questioned in the matter.