In a fresh development in the Republic TV TRP scam case, the Mumbai Police has opposed a petition filed by the channel requesting CBI probe on alleged rigging viewership ratings scam.
Mumbai Police in its advance petition to the Supreme Court said that the channel was making attempts to thwart the police investigations in the case.
“Republic TV’s demand to transfer the probe to CBI is misconceived. Republic TV wants to thwart the probe into fudging of TRP ratings. Media trial is against free and fair probe. Arnab Goswami (Republic TV’s editor-in-chief) is holding programmes where this case is debated at length and contacting witnesses and interfering and intimidating the witnesses,” the Mumbai Police said in the affidavit.
“Freedom of speech right cannot be invoked into an alleged crime. Right under Article 19(1) freedom of speech cannot be a shield against probe,” it said.
The police also said that a number of officials of several channels have been summoned in the case.
A three-judge bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee will hear the Republic TV’s petition through a video link today.
Last week, the Mumbai Police had said that three channels including Republic TV are being investigated for ratings or TRP manipulation.
Addressing a press conference, Mumbai police chief Paramvir Singh had said “Police are probing a scam involving manipulation of TRPs. identified three channels, including Republic-TV which is reportedly involved in distorting the apparatus used by BARC to rate television channels.
“The bank accounts of the channels would be investigated, besides the funds, they receive from advertisers and whether they are from proceeds of crimes,” it added.
“Household data were used by the channels for ratings manipulation and they received illegal advertising funds. This will be considered proceeds of cheating,” he said.
“There was false TRP spreading. TRP ratings were being bought. The manipulation was mainly for advertising revenues,” he said.
“As part of this, households were told to keep a certain channel switched on all the time. Illiterate homes were asked to keep English channels on. The households were offered monthly payments of Rs 4-500 in return,” Singh had contended.