A sessions court in Mumbai on Wednesday rejected the bail plea of Broadcast Audience Research Council’s former Chief Executive Officer Partho Dasgupta in a case pertaining to the Television Rating Points or TRP scam, reported Live Law. The court had reserved its verdict on Tuesday.
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. His bail application was last rejected on January 6, during which the court said that he played a vital role in the TRP scam.
Special Public Prosecutor Shishir Hirey had objected to the bail application, contending that Dasgupta had misused his position as the BARC CEO for personal advantage. He argued that his conduct contributed to “tainting the sanctity of the post he held”, according to Bar and Bench.
Advocate Shardul Singh, representing Dasgupta, told the court that his client’s health condition was weak, adding that it would further deteriorate leading to a diabetic coma if he remained in jail. Dasgupta’s counsel reiterated that the highest decision-making body at BARC was the board, and that his client was not its member.
However, Hirey said that the former BARC CEO may influence witnesses in the case if he was given bail, reported Live Law.
The TRP scam
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.