The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the Mumbai Police why Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami had not been named as an accused in the FIR in the Television Ratings Points (TRP) manipulation case, and directed the prosecutor to inform it by Thursday if they plan to do so.
A division Bench of Justices S.S. Shinde and Manish Pitale also asked the special public prosecutor Shishir Hiray how much more time they would take to complete the investigation.
The Bench said the FIR was filed in October 2020 and its March already. The court said, “You are investigating for the last three months. There are two chargesheets, and there seems to be no evidence against them. Isn’t this a sword hanging on their head?”
Mr. Hiray said the police have adequate evidence in the case and that they are still collecting additional evidence. The court then said, “Why not make them an accused? We do not think there is anything such as ‘suspect’ in criminal law.”
The question was asked after senior advocate Ashok Mundargi, appearing for the channel and the ARG Outlier Media Private Limited Group that owns the channel said even after two chargesheets, Mr. Goswami and other employees of the channel are only “suspects”.
The Bench was hearing a plea filed by Republic TV seeking to quash the FIR registered by the Mumbai Crime Branch against it.
On October 8, 2020, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh had said that a TRP racket had been busted which involved Republic TV, Box Cinema, and Fakt Marathi. He had said that the channels were manipulating TRPs and were involved in distorting the system used by the Broadcast Audience Research Council to rate television channels. On Tuesday, the court asked why the Mumbai Police had held a press conference in the matter.