TRP fraud probe: Mumbai Police files charge sheet against 12 accused
The Mumbai Police on Tuesday submitted a charge sheet at the metropolitan magistrate court, running into 1,400 pages, against the 12 accused in connection with television rating point (TRP) fraud case.
The charge sheet includes the statements of 140 witnesses along with relevant documents. Mumbai Police have listed the names of the owners and directors of the two news channels as wanted accused in the charge sheet. The police said that their probe would continue and they would submit supplementary charge sheet at a later stage with more evidence.
The accused are facing charges under sections 409 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), 465 (forgery), 468 (forgery for cheating), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 201 (disappearance of evidence), 204 (destruction of documentary evidence, 212 (harbouring offender) and 34 (act done with common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The case was registered with Kandivli police on October 6 after the arrest of Vishal Bhandari, 21, former employee of Hansa Research Private Limited.
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Apart from Bhandari, the police have also arrested Bompalli Rao Mistry,44; Shirish Pattanshetty, 44; Narayan Sharma, 47; Vinay Tripathi, 29; Umesh Mishra, 32; Ramji Sharma, 41; Dineshkumar Vishwakarma, 37; Harish Patil, 45; Abhishekh Kolwade, 35; Ashish Chaudhary, 50; and Ghanshyam Singh. 44.
Singh, who is Republic TV’s distribution head, was the last to be arrested. He was arrested on November 10 from his Thane home.
“Pattanshetty, Sharma and Mishra are out on bail. We have arrested republic TV representative and distribution head Ghanshyam Singh in the case and the other accused are connected to him. Mishra and Chaudhary have turned approvers in the case. The investigation in the TRP case will continue,” assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze, who is part of the probe and also heading the CIU of the crime branch, said.
The police began the probe after ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) filed a complaint through Hansa Research Group, alleging that certain television channels were rigging TRP numbers. The police then discovered that some channels were allegedly paying bribes to boost their TRP fraudulently to increase their advertising revenue.
Bhandari allegedly told the police that it was an old modus operandi to pay households where barometers for recording TRP were installed to keep tuned to certain channels, to help enhance rating of the channels fraudulently. Hansa is one of BARC’s vendors on engagement with panel homes or people’s meters.