A Mumbai court has rejected the bail plea of former Broadcast Audience Research Council Chief Executive Officer Partho Dasgupta, stating that he played a vital role in the Television Rating Points manipulation scam, PTI reported on Wednesday.
The Mumbai Police had arrested Dasgupta on December 24 and told the court that Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami had allegedly bribed him with “lakhs of rupees” to ramp up the news channel’s viewership.
Dasgupta had filed a bail application after he was remanded to judicial custody on December 30. Earlier, after his arrest he was sent to police custody.
While hearing the bail plea on Monday, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate SB Bhajipale observed that there was evidence to suggest Dasgupta manipulated television ratings points and could influence witnesses if released, Bar and Bench reported.
“The present applicant played vital role in the commission of offence,” the judge said. “The material collected by the investigating officer shows that the present accused manipulated TRP for particular TV channels by using his office as CEO of BARC.”
Advocate Girish Kulkarni, appearing for Dasgupta, submitted that the allegations against the former BARC chief were not substantiated by the police and that the other co-accused in the case have been granted bail, according to Bar and Bench. He further said that Dasgupta had resigned from his position in November 2019, before the alleged scam took place.
The court, however, noted that the other accused, including Romil Ramgarhia, former chief operating officer of the ratings agency, were released on bail as they played a different role in the alleged scam, PTI reported.
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”. Channels were accused of rigging their TRPs by bribing some households to watch it.
On December 25, Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Milind Bharambe had said that a forensic audit report of the rating agency’s data had revealed that numbers were being manipulated at least since 2016. Bharambe said that the manipulations which were done to a greater extent for English and Telugu news channels, resulted in showing Republic TV as the top ranked channel, in terms of ratings.
Several Republic TV officials have already been questioned in the case. Box Cinema and Marathi channel Fakt Marathi were the other channels named during the preliminary investigation.