Former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta ‘Mastermind’ Of TRP Fraud Case, Says Court
The Bombay High Court building, with the BSE building behind it, in Mumbai. (Photographer: Adeel Halim/Bloomberg)

Former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta ‘Mastermind’ Of TRP Fraud Case, Says Court

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Former Broadcast Audience Research Council chief Partho Dasgupta is the "mastermind" of the television ratings point manipulation case and there seemed more to the case than mere rigging ratings, as per the sessions court that had rejected his bail plea last month.

The copy of the Jan. 20 order of the sessions court in Mumbai was made available on Feb. 1 and was submitted in the Bombay High Court.

On Tuesday, the Bombay High Court adjourned till Feb. 9 the hearing on the bail plea of Dasgupta.

Dasgupta is accused of misusing his official position and conniving with ARG Outlier Media, the company that runs all Republic TV channels, and with Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami to manipulate TRPs.

He was arrested by the crime branch of the Mumbai Police on Dec. 24 last year.

In his order rejecting Dasgupta's bail plea, sessions court judge MA Bhosale said, "It appears from the papers put forth before me that it is not the case of simple manipulation of TRP but more than that. The case paper in the present crime reflect that the accused (Dasgupta) is the mastermind of the entire crime," the sessions judge noted.

The court stated that Dasgupta was acting in his capacity of CEO to manipulate television ratings through a mechanical device and it is disclosed that he was in contact with a television channel owner.

Judge Bhosale also rejected Dasgupta's argument seeking bail on the grounds of parity considering that 14 other accused persons in the case were out on bail.

The court said though the others were on bail, the police had recovered much data from the WhatsApp chats of Dasgupta and would require to interrogate him to decipher his chats.

"I am of the opinion that the custody of the accused is necessary at this stage. The accused/applicant is proper person to explain the meaning therefore, face to face investigation is required to be necessary," Judge Bhosale said in his order.

The court also noted that the investigation in the case was ongoing and that there was a possibility of tampering of evidence if Dasgupta was let out on bail.

Earlier in the day, Dasgupta's counsels Abad Ponda and Shardul Singh told the high court that the former BARC CEO suffered from a spinal problem and needed a medical attention.

"He (Dasgupta) is not dying but it (health) is precarious and he needs a medical attention," Ponda said.

Special Public Prosecutor Shishir Hire asked the court to grant some time since he was appointed to the case only on Monday.

He told the high court that a similar bail plea filed by Dasgupta was pending hearing in the Supreme Court.

Dasgupta's counsels, however, assured a bench presided over by Justice PD Naik that they will not go ahead with the plea in the apex court.

Justice Naik took the statement on record and adjourned the hearing till Feb. 9.

Dasgupta had sought bail on parity arguing that all other accused persons in the TRP case are out on bail.

He had told the court last week that Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami was the prime accused in this scam.

Dasgupta is accused of misusing his official position and conniving with ARG Outlier Media, the company that runs all Republic TV channels, and with Goswami to manipulate TRPs.

On Jan. 19, a sessions court in Mumbai rejected Dasgupta's bail plea.

At that time, sessions court judge MA Bhosale recorded in his order that though other accused persons were out on bail, Dasgupta's custodial interrogation was required since as per the case papers, he seemed to be the "mastermind" of the case.

Judge Bhosale had stated that Dasgupta's custody was required as the police would need him to explain his WhatsApp chats with others accused, or those named in the chargesheet in the case.

"From the case paper it is reflected that he (Dasgupta) is the mastermind of the entire crime," the sessions judge had said in his order.

"He (Dasgupta) is acting in capacity of CEO to manipulate television ratings through mechanical device..and it is disclosed that he was in contact with a television channel owner," he said.

The judge, however, said that before drawing any conclusions, a thorough probe into the case, and a "face to face" interrogation of Dasgupta was required, and therefore, he could not be let out on bail.

Last month, Dasgupta had been rushed to the state-run JJ hospital in Mumbai from the Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai, after his blood sugar levels went up and he fell unconscious.

He was discharged from the hospital ICU on the evening of Jan. 22.

Following his discharge, Dasgupta's lawyers had moved the HC seeking an urgent hearing on his bail plea.

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