Commissioner of Mumbai Police, Param Bir Singh has defended the press conferences held by him after unearthing the Television Rating Points Scam (TRP Scam) stating that the briefings were held as per the procedure and practice established in sensitive cases (ARG Outlier Media Private Limited v. State of Maharashtra).
In an affidavit filed before the Bombay High Court, Singh refuted the allegations levelled against him by Republic TV that the press briefings were held with an intention to falsely implicate the channel and its functionaries.
Singh contended that holding press briefings in sensitive cases helped in providing credible information to the extent it was fit and proper to disclose while answering queries from the reporters without divulging any confidential information.
Singh also relied upon the recent judgment of the Bombay High Court in a batch of public interest litigation (PIL) petitions seeking to curb media trial in the wake of the reportage relating to suicide of Bollywood actor, Sushant Singh Rajput case.
Reliance was placed on the specific observation made by the High Court regarding police briefings given by the court.
“We observe that Mumbai Police as well as the other investigating agencies may consider the desirability of appointing an officer who could be the link between the investigator and the media houses for upholding periodic briefings in sensitive cases or incidents that are likely to affect the public at large and to provide credible information to the extent such officer considers fit and proper,” the judgment had said.
The affidavit was filed in a plea by ARG Outlier Media Private Limited (the holding company of Republic TV) before the Bombay High Court seeking quashing of the criminal proceedings against Republic TV and its employees including Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami and an order transferring the investigation from the Crime Branch Mumbai Police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Singh also informed the Court that the investigation has culminated in a charge sheet filed in November 2020 and a supplementary chargesheet filed in January 2021.
He further stated that after the police received complaint regarding the scam, they had initiated investigation and after preliminary enquiry and based on an analytical report submitted by BARC, substantial evidence was found against three TV news channels which also included the Republic TV.
The allegations raised by Republic TV have been made only to escape the investigation and prosecution into the scam, as “no information or statement made by him in the briefing can be held to be offensive or would amount to malice,” the affidavit said.