On Friday, the Mumbai police issued summons to Republic TV’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Shiva Subramaniam Sundaram in connection to the controversial ‘TRP scam’ where originally, in the FIR related to the case, only India Today was mentioned and not Republic TV. He has been asked to appear before the cops on Saturday morning at around 11:00 am.
The notice, sent by the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Spl.) Shashank Sandbhor to Sundaram, stated, “Whereas, there are reasonable grounds to believe that you are acquainted with certain facts and circumstance of the matter and the same are to be ascertained from you…Whereas, it is necessary to record your statement in this regard.” The summon notice also reiterated that the CFO of the Republic TV has to be present before the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Spl.) at 11 am on October 10.
A case has been registered under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust by a public servant) and 420 (cheating). Besides Sundaram, the Mumbai police had also issued summons to the accountants of two other TV networks, namely, Box Cinemas and Fakt Marathi. Meanwhile, the cops had arrested two Hansa employees, Vishal Bhandari and Bompally Rao alias Sanju Rao, and owners of Box Cinemas and Fakt Marathi, in connection to the case.
Interestingly, while the original FIR named only India Today and not Republic TV, the Mumbai Police is yet to summon anyone from India Today to join the investigation in the case.
Mumbai police summons Republic TV Consulting Editor
In yet another brazen attempt to browbeat the Republic Tv network, the Mumbai police had earlier summoned its consulting editor and journalist Pradeep Bhandari for questioning on Friday. A complaint against Bhandari was registered at the Khar police station under Articles 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) of IPC and 37(1), 135 of the Bombay Police Act, and he was asked to appear for the investigation of the said crime.
The journalist took to Twitter to share the news, saying that Republic TV would keep putting up a fight against the police vendetta.
The ‘fake TRP scam’ exposed
The ‘fake TRP scam’ had taken a remarkable turn in less than 48 hours. Mumbai CP Param Bir Singh, in an explosive statement accused Republic TV of ‘TRP manipulation’. In a no-holds-barred attack against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami, the Mumbai CP had claimed, that the channel had illegally paid some households to keep some channels on even if they were not at home to boost their TRP.
However, by the end of the day, it was revealed that in the original FIR, Republic TV did not find a mention anywhere. In fact, it was India Today that had been named in the original FIR. The Joint Commissioner had also admitted that it was indeed India Today that was named in the FIR.
While the FIR in connection with the case was filed on the 6th of October, naming India Today specifically, by the 7th of October, the Mumbai Police had already sent a notice to BARC to obtain the viewership records of Republic TV and not India Today. Then, on the 8th, conspicuously, the Mumbai Police Commissioner who has a questionable past, held a press conference to implicate Republic TV and Arnab Goswami without even mentioning India Today. It is to be remembered that up until Parambir Singh held that press conference, there was absolutely no mention of Republic TV in the FIR.
Later, talking to Republic TV journalist, a witness in the case had confirmed that her son was indeed asked by the accused persons in the case to watch India Today to illegally increase their TRP. However, the Mumbai Police has still decided to investigate Republic TV and not India Today.
Later, in an OpIndia exclusive news break, it emerged that India Today had been held guilty of ‘viewership malpractice’ back on July 31st and was asked to pay a penalty of Rs 5,00,000 to BARC by the BARC Vigilance Council. India Today, after several hours of the news break, published a statement where they admitted that they were indeed fined for viewership manipulation but said that they will take legal action against BARC since their involvement in the scam was meant to be ‘confidential’.
On his part, Arnab Goswami has said that this is nothing but the political vendetta against his channel since he has been asking tough questions of the Mumbai Police and the Uddhav Thackeray government over the Sushant Singh Rajput death and the Palghar lynching of two sadhus. It is to be remembered that over 200 FIRs were filed against Arnab Goswami by Congress after his coverage of the Palghar lynching case and the Mumbai Police had interrogated him and the CFO of Republic TV for hours.