SC asks Republic Media Group to approach Bombay HC in TRP scam case

SC asks Republic Media Group to approach Bombay HC in TRP scam case
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday refused to entertain a plea by the Republic Media Group seeking to quash the summons issued by Mumbai Police in connection with the Television Rating Points (TRP) manipulation case and asked it to approach the Bombay High Court.

"We must have faith in high courts," said a bench comprising Justice D Y Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee.

It said the high court has been working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the media group should approach it.

"Like any other citizen who faces the predicament of an investigation under the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, the petitioner will have to take recourse to the remedies which are available under the appropriate provisions of law. Hence, the petition under Article 32 of the Constitution is not entertained," the bench said in its order.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioner, sought permission of the apex court to withdraw the plea with the liberty to approach the high court.

The writ petition is dismissed as withdrawn with the liberty as sought, the bench said.

At the outset, the bench told Salve, Your client has an office at Worli (in Mumbai)? You may go to the Bombay High Court."

"Entertaining the petition like this without high court hearing the matter sends a message also. We must have faith in high courts. The high court is working throughout the pandemic, the bench said. 

The bench also expressed concern that of late, there has been a tendency of the Police Commissioners to give interviews.

Mumbai Police has registered a case in the TRP scam and summoned Republic TV's chief financial officer S Sundaram for investigation. 

Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh had claimed that three channels including Republic TV manipulated the TRP.

The racket came to light when BARC, an organization which measures TRP, filed a complaint in this regard through Hansa Research Group Pvt Ltd, the police had said.

The plea in the apex court was filed by Arg Outlier Media Private Limited, which owns the Republic Media network, seeking quashing of the summons issued by the police.

Mumbai Police had earlier filed an affidavit in the top court seeking dismissal of the plea filed by Republic Media group contending that investigation into an alleged crime cannot be urged as a ground for violation of Article 19(1)(a).

"Article 19(1)(a) cannot be invoked by the petitioners to sidestep, thwart and prevent any investigation by the competent investigating agency into alleged fudging of TRP ratings. The right under Article 19(1)(a) is not a shield which can be used against any a commission of a crime under the extant criminal law of the land," it said.

The police submitted that the allegations contained in the impugned FIR registered by it make out any offence cannot be decided at this stage.

"The investigation is still progressing in respect of FIR No. 143 of an a 2020. There is no exceptional circumstance whatsoever warranting any interference by this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution," the police said.

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