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Mumbai court rules that TRP case against Republic TV filed by Uddhav Thackeray govt is baseless, orders withdrawal saying witnesses were threatened

"Witnesses were threatened, coerced”, the court said and accepted an application filed by Mumbai police seeking closure of the TRP scam case

On Wednesday (6th March), a Mumbai court ordered the withdrawal of the fake TRP case against Arnab Goswami and Republic TV. The court accepted an application filed by the Mumbai police seeking closure of the case filed by the Uddhav Thackeray government.

While issuing the order, the court observed that the case was based on false evidence. The Maharashtra state submitted in the court that the cases and evidence against Arnab Goswami and his channel Republic TV were fake and falsified. The additional chief metropolitan magistrate’s court in Mumbai has thus ordered to withdrawal of all these cases against Arnab Goswami and Republic TV in this matter.

It is notable that while some other channels were accused of paying money to artificially increase viewership data, the then Maharashtra government had filed the case against Republic TV without any evidence.

The court found that false evidence was filed against the channel in the court by the state. It was observed by the court that the witnesses were threatened and coerced to submit false testimony against Republic TV.

The detailed court order is awaited.

What did the state submit in its fresh application in this case?

The state had said in its application, “Most of the witnesses also stated on oath u/s 164 of CrPC that their statements were recorded by concerned police officers working with State Police machinery under threat and coercion. In this offence, BARC which is the sole authority for the collection of viewership technical data and controlling the same has not filed any complaint with any investigating authority. Given that said complaint is not being filled by the concerned government authority, technically it will be a futile exercise to continue with said present prosecution. A large number of persons are arrayed as accused in this without linking evidence.”

The application further noted, “The State Government has intimated to the Office of Commissioner of Police its decision to recommend the withdrawal of the above case/prosecution after considering the merits of the case. The concerned investigating authority has informed the office of the Public Prosecutor to act as per Section 321 of CrPC.”

It added, “As per the above-referred points it will be just and proper to stop the proceeding as per decision Dt 26/10/2020 of Govt of Maha u/s 321 of CrPC and letter dated 01.11.2023 issued by Investigating agency. It is submitted to withdraw the prosecution. Hence it’s humbly requested that the above referred criminal proceedings/ prosecution case be stopped/allowed to withdraw u/s 321 of CrPC. And for this act of kindness, the State is duty-bound as prayed.” OpIndia has a copy of this submission by the state.

‘Fake TRP’ scam

In October 2020, Mumbai CP Param Bir Singh, in an explosive statement, accused Republic TV of ‘TRP manipulation’. In a witch hunt attack against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami, the Mumbai Commissioner 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.

The Mumbai Police had filed a complaint against three channels namely Fakt Marathi, Box Cinema, and Republic-TV for manipulating television rating points (TRPs).

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. Hansa Research Group, which had filed the original complaint against two of its employees, had said that India Today and some other local channels were involved in the scam, and Republic was nowhere mentioned.

Later, the Joint Commissioner had to admit even India Today was named in the ‘Fake TRP’ FIR. In September last year, the Enforcement Directorate filed a charge sheet before a special court in Mumbai in which it confirmed that no evidence was found against Republic Media Network in the fake TRP case.

Republic TV’s alleged participation in bribing/influencing panel households to watch Republic TV or Republic Bharat channels was thoroughly investigated. The charge sheet stated that it became clear that the Mumbai police probe was ‘at variance’ with the ED investigation. The panel households back then had denied taking money to watch Republic TV or Republic Bharat.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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