The Bombay High Court on Monday said if the Mumbai police crime branch proposes to arraign Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami in the television rating points (TRP) case, it should first issue summons to him as was done for eight others in the case.
A division bench of justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik said if such a summons is issued then Goswami shall appear before the police and cooperate with the investigation.
Reacting to the news, comedian Kunal Kamra, who made headlines earlier this year for his sensational beef with Goswami on an Indigo flight, shared a meme featuring himself, the journo and Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut.
The meme showed Goswami’s face photoshopped on an arrested criminal, with a t-shirt that read “Sahi Pakde Hain”. The cop faces were morphed with Kamra as 'Special Inspector' and Raut as a 'constable'.
One user wrote, “Doesn’t take much to make them crawl, does it... Even small-time politician like Raut is enough.”
“Feeling bad for @rautsanjay61 ji. A do kaudi ka comedian showing a parliamentarian as hawaldar? I hope @ShivSena has taken note of this insult on our leader,” added another.
Here are some more reactions on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the court directed police to submit for its perusal investigation papers pertaining to the case in a sealed cover by November 5 when it would hear the matter.
The court was hearing a petition filed by ARG Outlier Media Pvt Ltd, which owns Republic TV, and Goswami seeking to quash the FIR lodged on October 6.
The petition has also sought a direction to transfer the case to CBI to ensure a fair and transparent probe and also on the ground that the case will have pan-India repercussions.
The plea said the HC should stay the investigation and restrain police from taking any coercive action against the petitioners pending hearing of their petition.
In a media release, Republic TV claimed Maharashtra government and Mumbai police have admitted in court that the channel is not named in the FIR in the TRP case.
The court noted that since Goswami has not been named as an accused in the case, it cannot pass an order granting him protection or directing the police to not take any coercive action against him.
The court also raised questions on whether it was correct on the part of the Mumbai police and its commissioner Param Bir Singh to hold press conferences in such matters.
The TV channel filed the plea in HC on October 16, a day after the Supreme Court refused to hear a plea filed by one of its senior officials challenging the summons issued to them by the Mumbai police.
"The officers and key managerial persons of the channel and Arnab Goswami have reasonable and tangible grounds to believe they will be apprehended by the Mumbai police in connection with the FIR which is false, frivolous, politically motivated and an attempt to muzzle the media and silence the news reporting by Republic TV," the petition said.
The Mumbai Crime Branch registered the FIR under various sections of Indian Penal Code for cheating, criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy against Republic TV and its senior officials and also against two other local regional channels.
The plea also said the court should initiate a CBI inquiry and disciplinary proceedings under the service rules against Param Bir Singh for "gross dereliction of duty and abuse of power".
"Republic Media Network Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director Arnab Goswami has directed his legal team Phoenix Legal to initiate the proceedings to sue Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh for Rs. 200 crore damages-- Rs. 100 crore for damage to the reputation of Arnab Goswami, and Rs. 100 crore for the damage caused to Republic Media Network," Republic TV said in the statement.
"At present, the legal teams of Republic are in the process of filing the defamation suit against Param Bir Singh," the channel said.
"Contradicting their own Police Commissioner, the Mumbai Police and Maharashtra Government lawyer today in the Bombay High Court admitted that Republic is not named in the FIR in the TRP case, and seemed to distance itself from the allegations made by the Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh," the statement said.
"Following this admission by the Maharashtra Government in open court, Arnab Goswami has directed that he will take every legal action against Param Bir Singh (and others if so required) and seek damages via a defamation suit," the channel said.
Republic TV said it will file a contempt petition against Special Executive Magistrate and Assistant Police Commissioner Sudhir Jambwadekar, "on account of the fact that he initiated chapter proceedings with respect to FIRs that have been suspended by the orders of the Bombay High Court."
With PTI inputs