Nothing incriminating in chat between Arnab Goswami, Partho Dasgupta: ARG counsel to Bombay HC
The counsel for ARG Outlier Media Private Limited, which runs Republic TV, submitted that the WhatsApp chat between Republic TV’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta was merely a friendly chat and there was nothing incriminating in it. The counsel also alleged that the Mumbai Police was harassing the employees of the company by taking the chat out of context and ascribing it to be part of the television rating point (TRP) manipulation case. The counsel submitted that though Goswami is just a suspect and has not been summoned by the police so far, there was an apprehension that he may be named as an accused on the whims of the police.
A division bench of justice SS Shinde and justice Manish Pitale, while hearing the petition filed by ARG Outlier and Goswami seeking to quash the first information report (FIR) and proceedings in the charge sheet against ARG Outlier employees in the TRP manipulation case, was informed by senior counsel Ashok Mundargi that the voluminous chat record between Goswami and Dasgupta had nothing incriminating in it. He submitted that the chat between the two was only about market trends and individuals, which usually transpire between friends, and hence the same could not be construed in any other way except normal chat.
When the bench referred to a portion of the chat wherein it was said that “I am only helping you” indicating that Dasgupta was helping rig TRP in favour of Republic TV, Mundargi said if that was the case, it should have been mentioned in the charge sheet, but there was nothing like it. He added that by keeping the probe open-ended and vague, the police was resorting to tactics to harass Goswami. In view of this, the counsel sought protection from coercive action on Goswami till the investigation was completed. The court, however, declined it.
The court then referred to the chat and sought to know from the state as to how it managed to recover the chats even after they were deleted, to which chief public prosecutor Deepak Thakare said it was possible though the social messaging platform claiming that the messages were end-to-end encrypted. Thakare said he would make a statement on the same in the next hearing, following which the court posted the hearing to March 25.