The Bombay High Court on Wednesday, March 17, questioned the Mumbai police why Arnab Goswami, the Editor-in-chief of Republic TV, was not named as an accused in the FIR of the alleged Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation case. The court also directed the prosecutor to inform it by Thursday whether they are planning to include Goswami's name or not, reported The Hindu.
Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale's division bench asked the special public prosecutor, Shishir Hiray, that how much more time would be taken by them to complete the investigation.
"The FIR was filed in October 2020 and its March already. Investigation is going on for the last three months. There are two charge sheets, and there seems to be no evidence against them. Isn't this a sword hanging on their head?" asked the court.
Replying to this, Shishir Hiray said that the police had adequate evidence in the case and they were collecting additional evidence, to which the court again said, "Why not make them an accused? We do not think there is anything such as 'suspect' in criminal law."
The division bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale was hearing a plea filed by Republic TV seeking to quash the FIR registered by the Mumbai Crime Branch against the TV channel.
In the same TRP scam case, the Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday, attached assets worth ₹32 crores of some television channels in Maharashtra in connection with the investigation of money laundering in the alleged TRP scam.
These attached assets are related to channels such as Fakt Marathi, Box Cinema and Maha Movie, under the provisions of the Properties of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), reported NDTV.
The central agency, in a statement, said that these properties included land, commercial and residential units in Mumbai, Indore, Delhi and Gurugram, adding that out of the channels on which the action was taken, two channels had a reach of 25 per cent in the audience of Mumbai, while the third channel had up to 12 per cent viewership.
The investigating agency had registered a case of money laundering against all these channels after studying the FIR lodged by the Mumbai Police in the case of alleged manipulation of television rating points.
"Television channels namely Fakt Marathi, Box Cinema and Maha Movie had entered into a criminal conspiracy to cheat and commit the offence of criminal breach of trust, forgery in order to gain wrongfully by manipulating TRPs of these television channels."
"Thus, by fraudulently enhancing the TRP ratings, these channels have garnered enhanced advertisement revenue," the Enforcement Directorate claimed.