On Wednesday, a Mumbai Sessions Court rejected the bail plea of former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Partho Dasgupta in connection with the fake TRP scam.
According to the reports, Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Shishir Hirey, appearing for Maharashtra opposed the bail plea, claiming that Dasgupta had misused his position as CEO of BARC for personal gain. He added that former BARC CEO’s conduct amounted to “tainting the sanctity of the post he held.”
The Mumbai Police arrested Partho Dasgupta on December 24 for his alleged TRP Scam involvement. He was in police custody till December 31, after which he was remanded to judicial custody for two weeks. He is currently admitted at JJ Hospital by Taloja officials presumably and is in a very critical condition.
Referring the dubious leaked chats allegedly released by the Mumbai Police to select media houses, the SPP contended that Goswami and Dasgupta had conspired to manipulate the TRPs of Republic TV channels.
Dasgupta’s health is deteriorating, says lawyers
Advocate Shardul Singh, appearing for Dasgupta, informed the Court that Partho Dasgupta’s health was fragile and it would deteriorate further leading to a diabetic coma if he continues to stay in custody. Singh reiterated that the highest decision-making body at BARC was the board and that Dasgupta was not a member of that board.
Responding to Hirey’s claim that Dasgupta had violated the sanctity of the post and the organisation, Singh said that there are no complaints alleging cheating or criminal breach of trust by advertisers.
Singh also reiterated that other accused were granted bail and some were even granted anticipatory bail even though the investigation was supposedly at a “nascent stage”, however, Mumbai Police had not challenged any of those orders.
Dasgupta had approached the Sessions Court after Chief Metropolitan Magistrate had rejected his bail application. The former BARC CEO had rejected the Mumbai Police’s allegations that he had misused his position as CEO to manipulate TRPs and submitted that he had no control over the data as it was collected and provided by the Hansa Research Company.
It is important to note that the former BARC CEO’s family has accused Maharashtra government of carrying out custodial torture against Partho Dasgupta to implicate Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami falsely.
Fake TRP scam
In October, Mumbai Police had made some sensational claims against some TV channels, saying they were manipulating TRP ratings. In a press conference, the Mumbai Police commissioner said that three TV channels, including Republic TV, were involved in manipulating BARC viewership data by paying those households where Bar-o-meters, the devices that track TV viewership, are installed.
The police had specifically mentioned that Hansa Research had filed a complaint with the police. Hansa Group is an organisation that regulated the devices to record TRP for BARC. Interestingly, in this FIR filed by Hansa Research, Republic TV was not mentioned even once. The channel that was mentioned several times was India Today.
During the investigation, several evidence and witnesses came forward that alleged Mumbai Police have been intimidating them to speak against Republic TV, including Hansa officials. Hansa has also complained that the Mumbai Police are harassing them to give statements against Republic TV.