A sessions court on Friday granted anticipatory bail to Priya Mukharjee, chief operating officer (COO) of ARG Outlier Media Private Limited, the company that runs Republic TV and its Hindi counterpart Republic Bharat. Mukharjee apprehended arrest in the TRP scam case.
The incharge court directed her to remain present before the concerned police station once a week and execute a bail bond of Rs 50,000 in the event of arrest.
In her plea, the 43-year-old, a resident of Bangalore, pointed out that the FIR did not mention her company or any of its employees. She had approached the court in “extreme urgency”, she said, because the city police commissioner Param Bir Singh and other police officers in different interviews had named Republic TV in connection with the TRP scam.
Mukharjee said she apprehends arrest with the malafide intention to muzzle journalistic freedom. “It is apparent and evident that the Commissioner of Police is determined to falsely implicate not only the applicant, but also ARG and Arnab Goswami,” her plea stated, and added that they have been exposing shortcomings in the state government and police machinery in the Sushant Singh Rajput case and Palghar lynching incident and that the investigation is a “witch hunt” for their criticism of the government.
The application narrated the many times she had been summoned for questioning in the case and said regarding the line of questioning that the Mumbai Police, having failed to implicate Goswami and other employees of ARG, are now probing matters unconnected with the case to fasten criminal culpability in other false and frivolous issues.
It further said that the police is trying to falsely implicate her in the case and arrest her and mentioned a sting operation carried out on state minister Nawab Malik of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in which he allegedly said that Goswami will be trapped in the TRP case. It also cited a writ petition by Hansa Research Group Private Limited in which it had said that it is being compelled by the police to make statements against ARG’s TV channels.
The plea had also questioned the hasty filing of the chargesheet even though the crime branch had 90 days to file it.