Bombay High Court Reserves Order on Bail Plea of Partho Dasgupta
The Bombay High Court (HC) reserved its verdict in the bail plea filed by Partho Dasgupta, former CEO of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), he is accused of Television Rating Points (TRP) Scam.
The matter was heard by Justice PD Naik who heard the arguments in detail by Special Public Prosecutor Shishir Hiray after Senior Advocate Aabad Ponda had concluded his submissions.
It was pointed out by the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) that although the Chief Operating Officer of BARC, Romil Ramgarhia was in charge of the finance, Dasgupta was the main executive officer and he was also the managing director (MD) of the company which is a more important position in the company.
He further clarified that the State of Maharashtra had applied for permission to challenge the order granting bail to Ramgarhia. He argued that the person occupying the post of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) needs clearance from the Central ministry which is not a requirement in other companies.
The main contention of Mr. Hiray was that Dasgupta had close relations with Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and they both were good friends. He stated that it is evident from their WhatsApp chat that was submitted by the Mumbai Police through a supplementary charge-sheet.
Hiray further stated that "There are voluminous chats which have to be investigated. And the network channel head and Dasgupta were such thick friends. At one point Goswami even said that Dasgupta was his alter ego."
He pointed out at the Whatsapp chats between Dasgupta and Arnab Goswami through which it is evident that Dasgupta was the major player in the case and along with Goswami held considerable power to tamper with witnesses. He added that the Mumbai Police Crime Branch is taking all appropriate measures to interrogate Partho Dasgupta while in judicial custody.
Senior Advocate Aabad Ponda, appearing for Dasgupta, closed his arguments and stated that this is not the correct stage to decide on the question of the innocence of Dasgupta. Advocate Ponda further reiterated that the evidence regarding the jewelry, the photos, and the reports were inadmissible and unconnected to the present investigation.
It was further added by the advocate that not even a single advertiser who is affected by this scam had come forward to file a complaint. Advocate Ponda argued that the TRP data, which BARC receives from the three agencies, including Hansa Research, "four times the Aadhaar data of the country" and hence it is impossible to manipulate it.
He further stated the accused was not even interrogated properly while he was in judicial custody. He added that if interrogation and investigation were not completed, the chargesheet against him should not have been filed at all.
The HC heard the submissions of both the parties at length and reserved the matter for orders.