The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Mumbai Police to give an advance notice of three days to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, if they wanted to arrest him in the alleged Television Ratings Point scam case, Bar and Bench reported.
A bench headed by Justice SS Shinde also ordered that the investigation against Republic TV should be completed within 12 weeks.
The High Court, however, expressed its disinclination toward granting Goswami and other employees of the channel protection from any coercive action till the investigation was underway. It said that such relief cannot be granted to several unnamed employees mentioned in the petition as they were merely suspects and have not been made accused by the police yet, according to PTI.
The court was hearing a plea filed by AGR Outlier Media, the company that owns Republic TV channels, challenging the criminal proceedings initiated against them and their employees in the TRP scam. The media group sought protection from coercive action and transfer of the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation or any other independent agency.
During the last hearing, the High Court had told the police that it could not go on investigating the matter for months without naming someone as accused. The court said that it seemed as if the police did not have anything substantial against Goswami in the case.
The court said the Maharashtra government must be reasonable and if police did not find anything incriminating against Goswami and others, it must accept it and make a statement to the effect. It added that the investigation cannot go on “forever”. “ED, CBI, state police, all should act with reasonableness, objective assessment,” the judges had said. “They should not appear to be another form of trouble.”
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.
Since the beginning, the Republic TV has denied any wrongdoing on their part, with its executives filing a flurry of lawsuits challenging the cases against them. They alleged that the whole case was malafide and they had been targeted for their reportage about the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and the Palghar lynching case.