No evidence against Arnab in TRP case chargesheet: Republic TV to HC

Mumbai, Feb 10: ARG Outlier Media, the company that runs all Republic TV channels, has told the Bombay High Court that the Mumbai police's charge sheet in the fake TRP scam did not disclose any evidence against Republic TV and its editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, who is an accused in the case.

In a rejoinder affidavit filed on Tuesday in the high court to counter the police's charge sheet, the company said the police had "falsely implicated" its employees in the case.

It said the entire case against its channels and employees arose out of an "unparalleled political vendetta" and a "deeply malicious witch hunt".

The company also said its employees had been targeted for the "fearless news reporting" done by the Republic TV on the Maharashtra police's investigation into the case of actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death and Palghar lynching incident of last year.

Rajput was found hanging at his home in Mumbai's Bandra area in June last year. The ARG Outlier Media in its affidavit said Hansa Research Group, the original complainant in the case, had not named the Republic TV or its employees in its complaints.

The company further said the Mumbai police's crime branch too had not found any evidence against its channels or employees, and yet, the police named its channels and their employees, including their top management, as accused and
suspects in its charge sheet.

"The charge sheet though voluminous in weight is negligible in evidence against petitioners," the affidavit said, adding "there is not a single shred of evidence of
wrongdoing in the charge sheet".

The company has also alleged in the affidavit that the police harassed and physically tortured some of its employees, including Assistant Vice President Ghanshyam Singh. It said Singh, CEO Vikas Khanchandani, and some others
were pressurised to implicate the Republic TV and other accused persons in the case.

"It is a matter of public record that Mr Singh was physically and medically tortured in custody to falsely self incriminate, and to falsely incriminate his organisation," the affidavit said.

The company also said the purported WhatsApp chats between Arnab Goswami and Partho Dasgupta, the former CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), were selectively leaked by the police to "create prejudice".

It also said in the affidavit that no actual stakeholders, be it advertisers, or media houses, which were supposedly affected by the alleged fake TRP scam, had come forward as complainants in the case.

The Mumbai police last month filed two affidavits in the case through city Commissioner of Police Parambir Singh, and ACP Shashank Sandbhor of the crime branch, saying the police had not targeted the Republic TV or its employees.

The police said their probe was not a result of any political vendetta.

A bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale is presiding over a bunch of pleas filed by the ARG Outlier Media, seeking, among other things, that no coercive action be taken against its employees and the probe be transferred from the Mumbai police to the CBI or any other independent agency.

The fake Television Rating Points (TRP) scam came to light last year when the ratings agency BARC filed a complaint through the Hansa Research Group, alleging that certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers.

TRP, measured by recording viewership data at sample households, is crucial for attracting advertisers. - PTI

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Republic TV CEO Vikas Khanchandani sent to 2-day police custody till Dec 15

Mumbai: The Mumbai Metropolitan Magistrate Court on Sunday, remanded Republic TV CEO Vikas Khanchandani to 2-day police custody till December 15, after his arrest by the Mumbai police in the alleged TRP scam case. His anticipatory bail plea hearing was scheduled to be heard on Monday. Republic TV is set to move the Bombay High Court immediately, challenging the city court's order.

Notably, the Mumbai police had sought 14-day custody of Republic CEO Vikas Khanchandani, after arresting him earlier this morning in connection to the alleged TRP scam.

Meanwhile, Republic TV's counsel - senior advocate Abad Ponda had argued as to how the police have hounded the network in one case after another, since the network's coverage of the Palghar mob lynching.

Earlier, on November 4, Arnab Goswami was arrested from his residence by the Mumbai police, with the police physically assaulting and dragging him, out of his home in a police van.

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Arnab Goswami's Interim Bail Extended

The Supreme Court on Friday said the interim bail to journalist Arnab Goswami and two others in an abetment to suicide case will continue till the Bombay High Court disposes of their plea, and stated that the judiciary should ensure criminal law does not become a weapon for selective harassment.

A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud on Friday gave reasons for granting relief to the TV anchor and two others in the case.

The bench also said the Supreme Court, high courts and lower courts must be alive to the misuse of criminal law by the state machinery. They should ensure criminal law does not become a weapon for the selective harassment of citizens, it said.

"Doors of this court cannot be closed to the citizen who has prima facie showed state has misused its power," it said, adding that deprivation of personal liberty even for a single day is too much. There is a pressing need for courts to remedy institutional problems of delay in dealing with bail applications, it said.

Swara Bhasker asks Zomato to Pull Down Ads from Arnab Goswami’s Republic Bharat

Actress Swara Bhasker yesterday asked Zomato to pull down ads from Arnab Goswami’s Republic Bharat.

She tweeted, ” Hey @zomatoin @zomato @deepigoyal I’m your regular customer.. do u plan to #DefundTheHate & pull your ads from hate espousing channels like @Republic_Bharat ? I’m not okay with my money even indirectly funding this kind of communal bigoted hate! Pls let your consumers know”.

Responding to the tweet, the food delivery company wrote, ” Hi Swara, please note, we don’t endorse any content except our own. That being said, we are looking into this”.

Comedian Kunal Kamra to Face Contempt Proceedings for his Tweets Criticising SC Bail to Arnab

Kunal Kamra faces contempt charges over a series of tweets criticizing the Supreme Court for granting interim bail to Republic TV founder Arnab Goswami.

Attorney General (AG) K.K. Venugopal Thursday gave consent to eight persons, including lawyers, to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the stand-up comedian.

In a series of tweets posted Wednesday, after the top court’s order to grant bail to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami in a 2018 suicide abetment case, Kamra criticised the SC for fast-tracking the hearing of his appeal.

The comedian’s tweets were not only in bad taste but clearly crossed the line between humour and contempt, the Attorney General said.

“The tweet is a gross insinuation against the entirety of the Supreme Court of India and its judges,” said Venugopal.

“Today people boldly and brazenly condemn the Supreme Court and its judges in what they believe is freedom of speech,” he said.

Following Kamra’s tweets, the AG’s office received eight letters, asking for his consent to initiate contempt of court proceedings under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, and the Supreme Court of India rules.

SC orders release of Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami

Guwahati: In a major development to the Journalist Arnab Goswami’s arrest case, the Supreme Court orders release of the Republic TV Editor-in-Chief on Wednesday.

A division of bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee granted bail to the Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami. The apex court was hearing Arnab’s plea  challenging the Bombay High Court order rejecting his interim bail plea.

The appellants were told to execute a personal bond of Rs. 50,000 and told to cooperate with the investigation and should not interfere with the witnesses.

Meanwhile, the Raigad Police was directed to ensure the compliance of the order of release of Arnab from Taloja jail without any delay. The detailed judgment regarding the reasons for the order shall be released for the Supreme Court later.

Arnab was arrested at around 7.45 am on November 4, the Mumbai Police barged into the residence of Republic TV’s Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and forcefully dragged him out while the cameras were turned off. The police personnel not only stopped Arnab from handing over medicines to his parents-in-law but also physically assaulted him and his son. The Mumbai Police told Republic TV that Arnab has been arrested under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code in a trumped-up case.

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Assam CM Sonowal Request Maha Govt to Ensure Safety and Security For Arnab Goswami

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Wednesday dialed Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to ensure safety and security for senior journalist Arnab Goswami.

In a tweet CM Sonowal wrote, "Talked to Maharashtra CM Shri Uddhav Thackeray ji and requested him for adequate security arrangements for renowned journalist Arnab Goswami. I talked to him as Mr. Goswami's family members approached me and intimated that there is not enough security provided to him."

Earlier on Wednesday, BJP MLA Ram Kadam wrote a letter to the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, over Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief' Arnab Goswami's illegal arrest and demanded his intervention. In this letter, the BJP leader urged President Kovind to "intervene and bring an end to this planned controversy against senior journalist Arnab Goswami.

Meanwhile, Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami had moved the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court order rejecting his interim bail plea.

Arnab Shifted to Tajola Jail After he was Found Using Phone

Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami was on Sunday shifted from Alibaug to Taloja jail in Maharashtra's Raigad district after he was allegedly found using a mobile phone while in judicial custody.

The Raigad crime branch found Goswami was active on social media using somebody's mobile phone, despite his personal mobile phone having been seized by police when he was taken into custody on November 4, the police official said.

Meabwhile, while he was escorted to Taloja jail, Goswami shouted from the police van, alleging that he was assaulted by Alibaug jailer on Saturday evening, his life was in danger and he was not allowed to speak to his lawyer.

Goswami and two others - Feroze Shaikh and Nitish Sarda - were arrested by Alibaug police on November 4 in connection with the suicide of architect-interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother in 2018 over alleged non-payment of dues by companies of the accused.

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Huge Protest rally staged in Guwahati demanding immediate release of journo Arnab Goswami

Guwahati: A huge rally was organized in Guwahati, Assam by the Sachetan Nagarik Manch, Axom from Rajgarh Bihutoli to Rajiv Bhawan demanding the immediate release of journalist Arnab Goswami.

Almost 2500 people participated in the rally.

Hundreds of people led by film stars, singers, cultural activists, acamedics and xatradhikars under Sachetan Nagarik Mancha joined the protest march.

Earlier, on Wednesday, Gauhati Press Club (GPC) also condemned the arrest of Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV Network Mr Arnab Goswami.

Reopening of an old case of abetment to suicide that was closed for want of evidence, and arresting Editor In Chief of Republic TV Network in connection with the said case is very unfortunate. The manner in which Mr Goswami was arrested clearly leaves room for suspicion towards witch-hunting, claimed the members of the GPC executive committee.

Members of the GPC executive committee while condemning the arrest of journo Goswami urged the Maharashtra Government and the Mumbai Police to ensure that the senior journalist is treated fairly without a prejudiced mindset.

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Amid Arnab's Arrest Manipuri Journalist Jailed over one month comes to Light

While the entire nation is voicing their opinion on Republic TV Editor-in-Chief, Arnab Goswami's arrest in the 2018 Anvay Naik Case, Kishore Chandra Wangkhem, a Manipuri TV journalist, who has been in an Imphal prison for over a month now, charged over Facebook posts still awaits justice.

Reportedly, Chandra was arrested on September 29 for the second time on charges of inciting enmity between two communities. He is currently detained at the Sajiwa Central Jail in Imphal East.

According to the local media reports, Chandra was booked for responding to a viral social media post made by a high-profile BJP politician’s wife.  The post was in response to a reportedly derogatory comment and a "racial slur"’ about her made by a Meitei woman close to her husband.

The police, who had opted to turn a blind eye to the alleged post by the woman close to the BJP politician, suddenly swung into action after Kishore Chandra commented on the post, according to his wife Ranjita Elangbam.

Despite requests, Kishore Chand is awaiting bail even after more than four weeks.

Ranjita claimed there is political pressure at play which has led to complacency and inaction over the arrest.

Ranjita also scoffed at Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh's condemnation of Arnab Goswami's arrest, calling out the concern as disingenuous.

"Physically assaulted & arrested of Republic Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami by Mumbai police is an attack on press freedom. I strongly condemn such politically motivated act of the Maharashtra govt", the minister added.

It is to be mentioned here that a host of politicians including Home Minister, Amit Shah called the arrest of Arnab Goswami a 'Political Vendetta'.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has called the arrest of the Republic TV journalist "a Black Day for Indian democracy."

"I strongly condemn the assault on senior journalist Arnab Goswami by Mumbai police. Vendetta politics should be stopped and freedom of the press should be maintained in Maharashtra by releasing Mr Goswami immediately," the Assam CM posted on Twitter.

The Editors Guild of India (EGI) was also not left out and condemned "the sudden arrest and find it extremely distressing."

"The Guild calls upon the Chief Minister of Maharashtra to ensure that Goswami is treated fairly and state power is not used against critical reporting by the media," it said in a statement.

Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also responded to the arrest and termed it "emergency days in Maharasthra".

"Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami physically assaulted & arrested by Mumbai police is nothing but muzzling freedom of the press by the vindictive M'rashtra govt. Strongly condemn this shameless politically motivated Mumbai police action. It's like Emergency days in Maharashtra," posted the Minister on Twitter.

Notably, in April 2019, Kishore Chandra was arrested under sedition charges for his statement against the Chief Minister. He had condemned his decision to commemorate Rani of Jhansi's battle against the British in Imphal and had alleged that Rani Lakshmibai had nothing to do with Manipur.