TRP scam: Bombay high court grants bail to former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta
The Bombay high court on Tuesday, granted bail to former Broadcasting Audience Research Council (BARC) CEO Partho Dasgupta who has been booked in the TRP manipulation case by Mumbai police. The bail was granted on furnishing a personal bond of ₹2 lakh and two solvent sureties. Thereafter, on the request of Dasgupta’s lawyers, the court allowed his immediate release. The bail conditions stipulate that Dasgupta has to visit the crime branch on every first Saturday of the month for six months.
A single bench comprising justice PD Naik had heard arguments in the bail application and reserved its order on February 16. Dasgupta had approached the high court after the sessions court had rejected his application in January. Dasgupta was shifted to Taloja Jail on January 22.
The bench, while hearing the arguments on behalf of Dasgupta, had been informed by senior counsel Aabad Ponda and advocates Shardul Singh and Arjun Thakur that of the 16 accused in the TRP manipulation case only Dasgupta was still in jail while others were out on bail or anticipatory bail. Ponda had submitted that just because Dasgupta had exchanged texts with Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami on WhatsApp, he could not be held solely responsible for the alleged offences. They also submitted that as the charge sheet had already been filed and as Dasgupta suffered from health issues, he should be granted bail.
Ponda had also argued that as the COO of BARC Romil Ramgarhia had been granted bail, though he had a much larger role to play in the alleged fraud, Dasgupta should also be granted bail. He had also argued that the alleged kickbacks received by Dasgupta in the form of watches and silver jewellery from Goswami had been purchased much before they were in touch with each other. He also argued that the allegations made by an employee of BARC regarding Dasgupta not taking action when alerted about the sudden spike in TRP ratings of a channel would not amount to criminal action and was just dereliction of duty.
However, special public prosecutor Shishir Hiray had opposed the application on the grounds that Dasgupta was the kingpin in the fraud and could tamper with evidence and influence witnesses if he was granted bail and hence the application should be rejected.
Hiray had submitted that as BARC was the only agency in India to be assigned the duty of monitoring TRPs across all channels and the post that Dasgupta held was a responsible post, his chats with channel heads and journalists showed that he had compromised his duty.