Must have faith in the HCs: SC directs Republic TV to petition Bombay HC first in TRP Case

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The Supreme Court on 15th October 2020 directed Republic TV to approach the Bombay High Court with its petition in connection with the alleged Television Rating Point (TRP) scam. Republic TV’s Chief Financial Officer Shiva Sundaram had challenged the summons issued by the Mumbai Police to the TV channel in connection with the case.

“… we must have faith in our HCs”, Justice D Y Chandrachud said during the hearing, adding that it would be inappropriate for the Apex Court to hear the case before the HC. Justice Chandrachud was heading the bench that also comprised Justices Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee. “We are only saying approach the HC first,” Justice Malhotra added.

Appearing on behalf of the media house, Senior Advocate Harish Salve expressed apprehension about the Mumbai Police probe, saying “of late, there is a tendency that commissioners are giving interviews” to the press. Justice Chandrachud expressed concern over this.

During the hearing, the Mumbai Police opposed Republic TV’s petition, saying Article 19(1)(a) couldn’t be invoked to sidestep, thwart and prevent investigation by competent authorities in the matter.

The Mumbai Police is probing the “fraudulent” manipulation of TRPs involving three channels — Republic, Fakt Marathi, and Box Cinema — mainly in the city.

We found that some channels were paying former employees of agency Hansa Research Group, which is contracted by BARC to carry out the research, to manipulate TRPs in their favour. This is mainly in the Mumbai region,” Singh said. “They, in turn, were paying certain households selected for putting up BAR-o-meters to keep certain channels like Republic switched on to show higher TRPs,” Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said earlier in October.