TRP scam: Court rejects bail plea of former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta, says he played 'vital role'

The material collected by the investigating officer shows that Dasgupta manipulated TRP for particular channels by using his office as the CEO of BARC, the court observed

Press Trust of India January 06, 2021 17:27:18 IST
TRP scam: Court rejects bail plea of former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta, says he played 'vital role'

Representational Image, Reuters

Mumbai: A Mumbai court, while rejecting the bail plea of Broadcast Audience Research Council's (BARC) former CEO Partho Dasgupta, has observed that he played a "vital role" in the alleged Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation scam.

The court passed the order on 4 January and a copy of it was made available on Wednesday. Dasgupta was arrested by Mumbai Police last month. Chief metropolitan magistrate Sudhir Bhajipale on Monday rejected his bail plea.

In his order, the magistrate said the material available on record shows the involvement of the accused in the alleged crime.

"The present applicant (Dasgupta) played a vital role in the commission of an offense," he observed in his order.

As per the court order details, Dasgupta was the CEO of BARC from June 2013 to November 2019.

The material collected by the investigating officer shows that Dasgupta manipulated TRP for particular channels by using his office as the CEO of BARC, the court observed.

The court order also said that the accused is the "most influential person who worked as CEO and the other persons or accused are yet to be interrogated".

"In such circumstances, it is the requirement of further investigation( which is still underway) to keep the present accused away from the wanted accused and other material witnesses," it added.

The court was of the view that Dasgupta's release will hamper the further investigation, which is still in progress.

One of the grounds cited by Dasgupta for seeking release on bail was parity with the other accused, including BARC's former chief operating officer Romil Ramgarhia.

The court, however, noted that no doubt the other accused are released on bail, but they have played a different role than Dasgupta in the commission of the offence.

"Considering the said fact, the principle of parity is not applicable in case of the present applicant," it said.

Dasgupta filed the bail plea on 30 December, 2020, after the court remanded him in judicial custody.

In his application, Dasgupta had claimed he was only an employee of the BARC and not a "whole and sole (authority)", and that there are the board of directors and a disciplinary committee above him in the council.

However, Mumbai Police's crime branch had argued that Dasgupta, in connivance with another senior official from the BARC and ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd's owner Arnab Goswami, manipulated the TRPs of Republic TV and Republic Bharat (Hindi).

The police had claimed that Goswami paid in lakhs to Dasgupta in return for the manipulation.

Republic TV and other accused have denied any wrongdoing and manipulation of the TRP system.

The alleged scam came to light last year when rating agency BARC filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group, saying certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers.

At a press conference held on 8 October, 2020, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh claimed that Republic TV and two Marathi channels Box Cinema and Fakt Marathi - were involved in manipulating TRP for better advertisement revenue.

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