In the FIR No. 843/2020, the Mumbai Police has filed its first charge sheet alleging the Fake Television Rating Points (TRP) Scam brought to light by their Crime Branch.
The Charge sheet has been filed under Sections 406, 409(criminal breach of trust) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) 465, 468 (forgery), 201, 204 (disappearance or destruction of evidence), 212 (harbouring offender) and 120B (conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code, for the commission of offences.
And the same was filed before the Court of theMetropolitan Magistrate at Esplanade, Mumbai. It was alleged that the rise in TRPs was achieved by paying money to the television viewers whose houses had barometers installed. And these viewers watched the specified channels for longer hours to show an escalated viewership of the channel.
The Crime Branch initiated the investigation in the TRP scam after they discovered, through certain employees of the Hansa Group, that ‘sampling metering services’ were being manipulated by paying people to watch particular TV channels.
The charge sheet citied the former employees of Hansa Research, were in charge of the installation and maintenance of the barometers in the individual households. They had also signed non-disclosure agreement with their employer company. Apart from the former employees of Hansa Research, the Mumbai Police have enlisted other people as accused in the TRP scam unearthed by them. There are approximate 140 persons and witnesses cited in the charge sheet.
Specifically, the charge sheet alleges that Bhandari, along with BN Mistry (Accused no. 2), conspired with TV channels by illegally accepting money from channels to create a fraudulent rise in TRPs.
Further, the Crime Branch stated that it has found evidence that the TRP scam has benefited the channels like Fakt Marathi, Box Cinema, Republic TV (English and Hindi channel), Mahamovie, and WOW TV.
The chargesheet specifically states that although the Republic channels are ‘Free to Air’ and its viewers do not have to pay remuneration to watch these channels, the channels tampered their viewership numbers in order to procure more revenue from the advertisements on their channel.
The Crime Branch has sought to leave from the Court to issue of summons to the accused and witnesses named in the chargesheet.
However, they clarified that the investigation is still on-going and a supplementary chargesheet may be filed in due course of time.