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Chargesheet that exonerates Arnab Goswami: ED finds that Mumbai Police got bribes during the investigation into TRP manipulation case. Details

Enforcement Directorate found that illegal gratifications and bribes had been received by the Mumbai Police officials while investigating the TRP case.

The Enforcement Directorate has filed a charge sheet before a special court in Mumbai in which it confirmed that no evidence was found against Republic Media Network and Arnab Goswami in the fake TRP case. On Wednesday, Judge MG Deshpande of the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court took cognizance of the charge sheet.

The charge sheet that has been filed by the ED categorically said that the investigation by the Mumbai Police and the charge sheet filed thereof was at “variance” with the findings of the ED. According to the charge sheet, the panel households denied taking money to watch Republic TV or Republic Bharat. The charge sheet said that the regional managers who admitted to paying household panels to watch particular television channels denied doing the same for Republic TV. There was no indication of Republic TV or Republic Bharat engaging in these practices, “either by a statement or by digital data evidence,” it noted.

As the ED charge sheet gives a clean chit to Arnab Goswami in the TRP manipulation case, one is reminded of the harassment that Arnab Goswami faced in a case that was clearly rigged against him. The charge sheet by the ED clearly says that the Mumbai Police’s charge sheet in the case has missed the mark and that the ED findings in the case are in conflict with that of the Mumbai Police, essentially indicating that while the police had implicated Republic TV and Arnab Goswami, the ED has found no evidence against the channel.

While the case was being investigated by the Mumbai Police, Arnab Goswami was interrogated and several employees of Republic Media were harassed for hours. In what is a vindication for the channel and its representatives, the charge sheet also mentions Sachin Vaze and how he recieved a bribe by BARC in order to stop them from harassing BARC officials in the case.

“Thus, it appears that illegal gratifications have been received by investigator-A of the Mumbai Police. As the matter was of serious nature, the same was referred to CBI on 01.07.2021. The outcome of CBI investigation on the above-said input is awaited for further action at this end”, the charge sheet says.

In the charge sheet, Enforcement Directorate says under PMLA 2002, conducted raids against two entities in Delhi after they received specific vigilance inputs. The charge sheet says, “The searches and the statements of concerned persons of these entities revealed that they had received an amount of around Rs. 30 lakhs from M/s BARC through a circuitous route. The stated purpose of receipt of this amount was civil renovation work of M/s BARC office in Mumbai, however, the money (Rs. 25 lakhs) was returned in cash to BARC after deduction of usual commissions and GSTfTaxes etc”.

The charge sheet further said that on the 24th of March 2021, a complaint was filed by BARC stating that they were forced to pay a bribe of Rs 25 lakhs to Sachin Vaze the API of Mumbai Police, to allegedly escape undue harassment in the TRP case.

Charge sheet filed by ED

The charge sheet said that a detailed investigation was carried out by the ED in this regard and it was found that one Santosh Kotwal, Police Inspector of the Crime Investigation Unit of Mumbai Police had received the cash from BARC. When the ED questioned Kotwal, he admitted that he had indeed received a bag allegedly “containing papers” related to the BARC investigation in a “private place”. Thereafter, the bag, on the instructions of Sachin Vaze, was handed over to him in his private cabin.

“Further, it is highly improbable that papers relating to investigations will not be received in office but in a private place outside the jurisdiction of Mumbai Police”, said the charge sheet.

With reference to abovesaid findings, statements of following individuals were recorded Section 50(2) & (3) of PMLA, 2002:- 1. Statement dated-24.03.2021 of Shri Dharamveer Mahecha, Head-Vigilance and Investigations – of M/s Broadcast Audience Research Council; 2. Statement dated 25.03.2021 of Shri Sameer Saddrudin Gilani, Assistant Vice President of BARC: 3. Statement dated 25.03.2021 of Shri Varun Krishan, Senior Vice President — Finance of BARC; 4. Statement dated 25.03.2021 of Shri B. Shivaraman, Financial Controller of BARC; and Statement dated 07.06.2021 of Shri Santosh Baban Kotwal, Police Inspector, Mumbai Police“, the charge sheet added.

It is, therefore, the observation of the Enforcement Directorate that illegal gratifications and bribes had been received by the Mumbai Police officials while investigating the TRP case. The CBI is further investigating the extent of the bribery and how it affected the investigation into the TRP manipulation case. The findings of the report by the CBI are awaited.

Sachin Vaze and Param Bir Singh had revealed that Anil Deshmukh wanted Arnab Goswami falsely implicated and arrested in the TRP case 

While the ED has given a clean chit to Arnab Goswami, it is pertinent to remember why this saga had erupted. In September 2021, Sachin Vaze, the Maharashtra police officer currently under arrest had told the Enforcement Directorate that the former Maharashtra Home Minister and NCP leader Anil Deshmukh had wanted Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami to be arrested in the TRP rigging case.

The tainted cop had revealed that Anil Deshmukh, NCP leader and former Maharashtra Home Minister, had been personally involved in the attempt to get Arnab Goswami arrested, apart from demanding bribes and extortions worth crores from business owners.

Sachin Vaze had submitted before the ED that after he was reinstated into the force by Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh after paying Rs 2 crores, Anil Deshmukh used to personally call him at his office or home to brief him on various cases. These included the TRP rigging case, Arnab Goswami’s arrest in the abetment to suicide case regarding the death of architect Anvay Naik, Dilip Chhabria’s case, and the social media fake follower case.

“In the TRP case Anil Deshmukh wanted to arrest Arnab Goswami. In the Dilip Chhabria Case, Anil Deshmukh wanted me to get some kind of settlement with his partner of approx. Rs.150 crores. In Social Media Fake follower case he wanted to have all-out action against the culprits.” Vaze revealed this in his statement to the ED.

It is also pertinent to note that recently, the tainted ex-Police Commissioner of Mumbai Param Bir Singh, facing a probe by central agencies in the Antilia bomb scare and Mansukh Hiren murder case, confirmed that the TRP case against Republic Media Network was a hoax and part of a planned conspiracy against Journalist Arnab Goswami. During an interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Singh also alleged that ex-Police Officer Sachin Vaze was taking instructions from the then Home Minister Anil Deshmukh in the TRP case along with other cases.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Nupur J Sharma
Nupur J Sharma
Editor-in-Chief, OpIndia.

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