A Sessions Court in Mumbai on Monday took exception to the haste in which Mumbai Police arrested Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Republic TV, Vikas Khanchandani in relation to the TRP scam.
Additional Sessions Judge DE Kothalikar said that the Court was disappointed with the way Mumbai Police chose to arrest Khanchandani a day before his plea for anticipatory bail was scheduled for hearing.
“What was the urgency to arrest him like this a day before, when the application was sub-judice?” Additional Sessions Judge DE Kothalikar asked Special Public Prosecutor Sisher Hirey.
The judge made the observations while hearing the anticipatory bail application filed by Republic CFO S Sundaram apprehending his arrest by the Mumbai Police in the TRP Scam case.
The plea came up for hearing just minutes before the Court rose for the day. Advocate Niranjan Mundargi, appearing for Sundaram, requested the Court to protect Sundaram till it takes up the application for hearing on Tuesday.
He pointed out how Khanchandani was arrested stating that the application filed by the Khanchandani was served on the Mumbai Police on Thursday. Despite being aware that his application will be heard on Monday, the Police arrested Khanchandani on Sunday, Mundargi submitted.
Khanchandani was, thereafter, produced before the holiday court at Esplanade on Sunday itself, which remanded him to police custody till December 15. Mundargi expressed apprehensions that a similar action will be taken against Sundaram if no protection is granted by the Sessions Court.
Upon hearing this, the Court expressed its disappointment at the conduct of the Mumbai Police.
The Court then directed Hirey to either make a statement that no coercive action will be taken against Sundaram till tomorrow, failing which the Court would pass an order to that effect.
“You can wait for one day, and in any case if the application is not granted tomorrow, then you can take action. It is a matter of one day,” Judge Kothalikar said.
Hirey then made a statement on behalf of the Mumbai Police that no coercive action would be taken against Sundaram till tomorrow.
The same Sessions Court also granted anticipatory bail to Sanjay Sukhdev Verma, CEO of Maha Movie, which has also been charged with manipulating its Television Rating Points (TRPs) as part of the alleged scam.
Advocate Sudeep Pasbola, appearing for Verma, submitted that the investigation being carried out in the TRP scam was based on documents and bank statements, most of which were submitted to the police or could be submitted as and when demanded. In this light, he argued that Verma’s custody was not required.
He contended that Verma was not the CEO when the alleged financial transactions for manipulation of TRPs took place. Regardless of this fact, the TRPs of the channel never increased, Pasbola said.
Hirey submitted that there were transactions which were found during the investigation that pointed to certain illegal activities being carried out by the company. Verma, being the CEO, had powers to direct the conduct of such activities, he said.
The Court, however, granted anticipatory bail to Verma as it found no reason for custodial interrogation in the case. It referred to the order of another Sessions Court which granted bail to the owner of Maha Movie.