The Bombay High Court today granted Republic editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami limited protection from arrest in the TRP scam. The Mumbai police was also directed to give Goswami three-day advance notice before taking coercive action against him.
Goswami had moved the court to quash the case against him and give him protection, pointing out that his name did not figure in the police's chargesheets or FIR filed in the case. The chargesheet mentions Republic and Goswami as "suspects", not "accused".
While passing the order today, the court told the Mumbai police: "Can you keep the sword of investigation hanging over the heads of the petitioners for an indefinite period without them being named as accused"
Directing the police to give advance notice of "three clear days", excluding holidays, before taking coercive action, the court also granted Goswami the liberty to approach them if he received such a notice. Similarly, the police was directed to give Goswami three-day notice if he was to be summoned as part of their investigation.
"We were also in a dilemma as to how to pass an order when they [Republic] are not made an accused," Justice SS Shinde said.
Senior advocate Ashok Mundargi, who appeared for Goswami, asked the court to grant protection from arrest to employees of Republic who had also been named as suspects. The court denied his request, saying Mundargi had not clarified who all he was appearing for.
It also denied Mundargi's request to stay the investigation in the case. "Investigation is the exclusive purview of the investigating agency. Investigation will not be interfered with by court at this stage,” the court said, quoting an earlier judgement.
On Monday, the court had asked the Mumbai police to provide an estimate of how long it would take to complete their investigation. Deepak Thakare, the Mumbai police special public prosecutor, responded today, saying the investigation would be completed in 12 weeks.
Accordingly, the matter has now been posted for hearing on June 28.
The scam in question was brought up by the Mumbai police last year, which alleged that a few media houses bribed some families in whose homes meters to measure television ratings had been installed to tune into a particular channel. Among the channels named was Republic TV.
The police subsequently made public WhatsApp chats between former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta and others, including Goswami, that purportedly show them colluding over the scam. An FIR was and two chargesheets have also been filed.
Last week, the court had asked the Mumbai police how they had no evidence against Republic TV after three months of investigation in the case, and why the channel .