TRP Scam: Hansa Research moves Bombay High Court, claims harassment from Mumbai crime branch officials

It alleges that Mumbai crime branch people are pressurizing its employees.

New Delhi: Hansa Research Group has moved the Bombay HC, alleging that Mumbai Police’s crime branch officers probing the case are pressuring its employees to “retract” a report, based on which Republic TV had claimed it was not among channels named in the TRP Scam case. It has urged the court to transfer the probe to CBI or another state agency, accusing the Crime Branch of being “biased”.

The media report said that the group has filed a petition and the four petitioners – Hansa Research, its director Narsimhan K Swamy, CEO Praveen Nijhara and deputy GM Nitin Deokar – contended that since October 12, several employees of the company have been repeatedly called to the crime branch office and were pressured to make a “false statement” disowning the report telecast on Republic TV on October 10 – referred to as the “Hansa report”.

They mention that they are caught in the crossfire in a “battle-like situation between Mumbai Police and certain sections from media for the last few months…. It is evident that the petitioners are being used by police and certain section from media as means to attack each other and petitioners are suffering from collateral damage in this.”

The petition further stated: “Harassment caused to the petitioners by respondent no. 1 (Assistant Inspector Sachin Vaze) is only with a view to extract a statement, albeit false, from them that the…purported Hansa report shown on Republic TV since October 10 is not that of the petitioner no. 1 but a fake one.”

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The petitioners stated that they told crime branch officers repeatedly that they could not confirm or deny the report since they were not aware what the ‘Hansa Report’ cited by Republic TV was, as the channel had not sought their permission or informed them about using the report, and only parts of the report were telecast. They said that they will have to see the entire document to ascertain its veracity.

The petition names assistant police inspector (Crime Branch) Sachin Vaze, Mumbai Police commissioner Parambir Singh, assistant CP and chief investigating officer Shashank Sandbhor, Maharashtra government and the CBI as respondents.

The petition stated that on October 26, four directors of the company and one vice-president (finance) were present at the crime branch office. The petitioners claimed that while the crime branch officers again told the petitioners to deny ‘Hansa report’ as fake, they also disallowed their lawyer to enter the premises. They were then informed that they were being arrested and their phones were seized, the petition further stated.

The petitioners alleged that since October 12, when Nijhara and Deokar first went to the crime branch office, their employees have been “kept detained there for over 200 man hours for no justifiable reason”. The only objective of the crime branch, the petition alleged, is to “keep them detained and pressurise and frustrate them so that they make a false statement according to the desire of respondent no 1 (Vaze) for reasons best known to him.”

The petition is likely to be heard by the court later this week.

Earlier, the group moved the city civil court seeking an order restraining Republic TV from citing the report as ‘Hansa Report’ since they were not informed by the channel. The city civil court, however, refused to grant the injunction.

On 6 October, Hansa Research Group lodged an FIR against its employee Vishal Bhandari after he was found allegedly accepting payments illegally to make certain households watch specific TV channels, allegedly to fudge TV TRP ratings. Several arrests have been made in the case. 

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