Republic TV’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami’s first port of call when accused of a massive TRP scam, the Supreme Court of India, has refused to entertain his plea. The apex court has instead reportedly told the anchor to approach the Bombay High Court with his petition.
According to a report by India Today, the Mumbai Police has opposed Republic TV and Arnab Goswami’s petition in Supreme Court over the summons it issued to the channel’s top officials in connection with the TRP scam investigation. The IT reports that in its affidavit, Mumbai Police stated, “They seek rejection of the petition with a heavy penalty imposed on the petitioners.” Mumbai Police said this is a “criminal investigation” and exemption cannot be sought in the name of freedom of expression. The Police have also argued that an “accused person cannot decide or dictate the modalities of the investigation” said the news report.
The other other channels accused have been “cooperating in the police investigation, but Republic TV has been creating hurdles in the process” say the Mumbai Police. According to the IT report, this investigation into the alleged TRP scam where Republic TV is one of the biggest names accused “is still in its initial phase and cannot be handed over to CBI.”
Idiots at @republic got another tight slap ! This time from SC!
Moron Arnab should only be running around in courts and police station so that spreading of hate via his channel will slow down and people will get peace of mind ! pic.twitter.com/2sRjDYj3c7
— Vijay Thottathil (@vijaythottathil) October 15, 2020
Mumbai Police had summoned top office bearers of Republic TV Network for questioning in connection with the alleged TRP scam. Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh had alleged that three media outfits had rigged barometers set up by BARC in order to elicit higher TRPs for themselves. On Monday, the SC had also refused to entertain Arnab Goswami’s plea challenging the show cause notice issued by Maharashtra assembly saying it could do so “only after any action is taken.” On October 13, the Maharashtra Legislature secretariat had issued a notice to Arnab Goswami for “breach of privilege for submitting a copy of the proceedings of the Assembly in Supreme Court without the Speaker’s permission,” reported India Today. The Maharashtra Legislature secretariat had stated on Wednesday that it had asked Goswami to submit “a written clarification”.
Bar and Bench reported that Mumbai Police told the Supreme Court that Republic TV was making the TRP scam a “media spectacle”. Mumbai Police said none of the other TV channels summoned “have raised any grievance with regard to the investigation.”
In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the Mumbai Police said that “rights under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution cannot be used as a shield against commission of a crime.” Republic TV’s Chief Financial Officer S Sundaram had moved the Supreme Court challenging the summons issued to the network in relation to the TRP scam claimed to have been unearthed by Mumbai Police reported Bar and Bench. This petition filed in the Apex Court challenges the October 9 summons issued to the CFO of the Republic Media Network in relation to investigation in FIR CR No. 143 of 2020.
Mumbai Police have termed the writ petition as a gross abuse of process of law, and urged the Court to “dismiss the plea with exemplary costs.” The Bar and Bench quotes from the affidavit: “Any investigation in an alleged crime by an investigating agency cannot be urged as a ground for violation of rights under Article 19 (1) (a). Article 19 (1) (a) cannot be used to side-step, thwart, or prevent any investigation by a competent agency into the alleged fudging of the TRP ratings. Right under 19(1)(a) is not a shield which can be used against the commission of any crime under the extant criminal law of the land.”
According to Bar and Bench, the police affidavit states that Republic TV had been conducting debates regarding the TRP scam and has been “contacting witnesses” who are being summoned by the police to investigate the case and that “petitioners are directly interfering and intimidating the witnesses by issuing news releases” ADDING “Such a media trial is antithetic to the process of free and fair investigation as also administration of justice.”