TRP scam: Bombay HC extends Arnab Goswami’s protection from arrest

Interim relief extended after HC adjourned hearing on transfer of probe.

NEW DELHI: The Bombay high court has extended till March 5 the protection from coercive action granted to Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and other employees of the channels in connection with the TRP manipulation case, news agency PTI reported.

The interim relief was extended after the high court adjourned the hearing on Republic TV’s parent company ARG Outlier Media’s plea challenging the probe carried out by the Mumbai police in the alleged TRP scam.

Friday's hearing was adjourned after the Maharashtra government's counsel, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, pointed out that in its rejoinder affidavit filed last week to counter the police's chargesheet, ARG had relied upon several new documents that were not part of its petition.

Sibal said that since he would need time to respond to the new documents, ARG's counsel senior lawyer Harish Salve must not rely upon those documents during his day's arguments.

Salve, however, insisted on relying upon those documents.

The court then adjourned the hearing after accepting Sibal's statement that the interim protection granted to Goswami and the others will continue till the next date.

A bench of justices S S Shinde and Manish Pitale said it will hear the plea through video-conferencing only for its interim prayer of protection on March 5.

The bench will hear ARG's main prayers challenging the police's investigation and seeking the transfer of probe to the CBI or any other independent agency, on 16 March at a physical hearing.

In an aside, when Salve insisted that he won’t be able to attend physical hearing in the case as he would be due to take the next shot of the Covid vaccine, the bench enquired of additional solicitor general Anil Singh: "I am deviating, but Mr Singh (ASG), why is vaccination not happening for us also?"  

Back in October 2020, the Mumbai police claimed to have unearthed a TRP manipulation racket and found several channels – Republic TV, Fakt Marathi and Box Cinema – were involved in the matter. Since then, 15 arrests have been made in the case, the most prominent being former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta, who is currently in jail after his bail pleas were rejected multiple times. On its part, Republic TV has maintained that it was involved in no wrongdoing, even as a series of leaked WhatsApp chat transcripts allegedly between Dasgupta and Goswami caused a great deal of upheaval in the media and political spheres of the country.

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