Former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta’s lawyer told the Bombay high court on 25 January that Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami was the “main person” in the TRP manipulation scam according to the prosecution.
Counsel Shardul Singh was answering Justice PD Naik on the question who, according to the police, was the main person in the case and what was Dasgupta’s role. Public prosecutor Deepak Thakare said that the additional charge sheet that Mumbai Police had filed in the case had mentioned Dasgupta as the “mastermind” of the scam.
Dasgupta was seeking bail before the HC after two lower courts had denied him liberty. Pointing out that all the other accused, including the chief operating officer of BARC, a co-accused, were either released on bail or were granted protection from arrest by the courts, Singh sought bail for Dasgupta on grounds of parity. He argued that Dasgupta’s health was frail and he had to be hospitalized on 15 January and was discharged last Friday.
Thakare submitted a report by the medical officer from Taloja jail which said 55-year-old Dasgupta was “stable” and “oriented and conscious.” Thakare said he was getting all the medical attention needed in prison and if there was any emergency, he would be shifted to JJ hospital, even if a police escort was not available.
The court adjourned the bail hearing by a week to enable Dasgupta’s lawyer to amend the petition and seek a copy of the supplementary charge sheet.
The supplementary charge sheet filed in court says Dasgupta had told the police in a statement that he’d received Rs 40 lakh from Arnab Goswami over a period of three years as well as $ 6,000 for a holiday, in return for rigging the ratings.
Dasgupta is accused of misusing his official position and conniving with ARG Outlier Media and Arnab Goswami to manipulate TRPs and boost Republic TV to No. 1 position.
While rejecting his bail plea, the additional chief metropolitan magistrate at Esplanade Court had earlier on 4 January said, “The material available on record shows the involvement of the present accused in the alleged crime and played a vital role in the commission of offence.” He had moved the sessions court, which too had rejected his bail plea on January 20.
“The accused is the most influential person who worked as CEO of BARC,” the magistrate had said while declining Dasgupta’s bail plea.