Mumbai police has said that if any nexus is found between Arnab Goswami of Republic TV, ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd and the other accused in TRP manipulation case, “then criminal culpability may be attributed to them.”
The Mumbai police in an affidavit filed at the Bombay high court said that the investigation into the TRP manipulation case is at a “crucial stage”, TOI reported.
“Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) has confirmed” “suspicious activity with regard of (sic) the TV channels in which Petitioner No. 2 (Arnab Goswami) is a director,” the newspaper quoted the affidavit as saying.
So far, the probe “prima facie indicates collusion of BARC officials with others to manipulate ratings,” it said.
The Mumbai police sought dismissal of the petition filed by Goswami and ARG Outlier (which operates the channel) to quash or transfer the probe to CBI.
The police said the petition is not maintainable and should be dismissed “with exemplary cost” as neither ARG Outlier nor Goswami have been named as accused yet.
The trial court has taken cognizance of the offenses against the accused named in the chargesheet, said the police.
The ‘WhatsApp chats’ (between Goswami and former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta) which form part of the November 24 chargesheet need further investigation and cannot be shut out through the petition, the affidavit said.
Police alleged Goswami “has been holding debates in TV channels owned by ARG Outlier” to make baseless charges against Mumbai police and have a “media trial” to ensure they “are given a clean chit.”
Police said the Republic TV chief is giving the entire investigation a colour of political vendetta, when the facts would disclose otherwise.
Police also denied that the arrest of Ghanshyam Singh, distribution head of Republic TV, was malicious.
The HC bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale posted the matter for hearing till February 12.