The Mumbai Police on Tuesday named Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami as an accused in the alleged Television Rating Points scam, reported Live Law. Apart from Goswami, the police have added six more people in its supplementary chargesheet filed before the Court of the Metropolitan Magistrate at Esplanade, Mumbai.
With this, the total number of accused in the case is now 22, according to Bar and Bench. In its first chargesheet, the Mumbai Police had said that there were 22 accused in the case. However, chargesheets were filed against only 15 accused before this.
The supplementary chargesheet is over 1,600 pages. Apart from Goswami, it also named Priya Mukherjee, the chief operating officer of Republic TV, and the channel’s chief financial officer Siva Subramaniam.
The chargesheet mentioned offences under Sections 406, 409 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) 465, 468 (forgery), 201, 204 (disappearance or destruction of evidence), 212 (harbouring offender) and 120B (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
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.
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 scam, PTI reported on Wednesday.
The Mumbai Police had arrested Dasgupta on December 24. They said Goswami had allegedly bribed Dasgupta with “lakhs of rupees” to ramp up the news channel’s viewership.
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 added 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.
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.
On December 9, Goswami and ARG Outlier Media, which owns Republic TV, moved the Bombay High Court seeking a stay on the Mumbai Police’s investigation.
On March 24, the High Court had directed the Mumbai Police to give an advance notice of three days to Goswami, if they wanted to arrest him in the case. The bench headed by Justice SS Shinde had also ordered that the investigation against Republic TV should be completed within 12 weeks.