Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted bail to Broadcast Audience Research Council's (BARC) former CEO Partho Dasgupta, an accused in the alleged Television Rating points (TRP) rigging scam.
Justice P.D. Naik granted bail to Dasgupta (55) on a personal bond of Rs two lakh and two solvent sureties of the same amount.
“The bail plea is allowed. The applicant (Dasgupta) shall be released on bail after furnishing a personal bond of Rs two lakh and two sureties of the same amount,” the HC said.
The court allowed him to furnish a temporary cash surety of the same amount for a period of six weeks until which he would have to submit the solvent sureties.
The permission was given after Dasgupta's counsel Aabad Ponda told the court that the process of preparing and submitting the solvent sureties would take time.
The court directed Dasgupta to surrender his passport to the police station concerned and not leave India without permission of the trial court.
“The applicant shall attend the police station concerned on the first Saturday of each month for a period of six months. After that, he shall appear once in three months,” it said.
The court directed Dasgupta to attend the case trial as and when required and not tamper with evidence or witnesses in the case.
Dasgupta approached the HC in January this year after a sessions court rejected his bail plea while noting that he had played a vital role in the scam and was its alleged “mastermind”.
He was arrested on December 24 last year and had been in jail since then.
Dasgupta is accused of having misused his official position and conniving with ARG Outlier Media, the company which runs all Republic TV channels, and with Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, to manipulate TRPs. Republic TV has denied any wrongdoing.
There have been serious allegations against the duo. WhatsApp conversations between Goswami Dasgupta revealed that the former seemed to have prior knowledge of the Balakot Air Strike. The transcripts mentioned Goswami telling Dasgupta that “something big” was about to happen. When the latter responded, asking if it was about “Dawood” (gangster Dawood Ibrahim), Goswami said it was about “Pakistan. Something major will be done this time.”
Dasgupta, in a written statement to the Mumbai Police, had said that Goswami had bribed him with $12,000 and Rs 40 lakhs in cash to ensure the “manipulation of TRP ratings that made Republic TV get number 1 rating”.
The Mumbai police while opposing Dasgupta's bail plea had said he played a direct role in the manipulation of TRPs for TV news channels.
The police had relied on Dasgupta's chats with Goswami where they discussed manipulation of TRPs.
Dasgupta's counsel Ponda earlier urged the HC to grant him bail, saying the police had already filed their charge sheet in the case and that his custodial interrogation was not required any more.
Ponda had also told the HC that Dasgupta's WhatsApp chats, including his chats with co-accused Goswami, were merely “loose talk”.
On January 16, Dasgupta was rushed to the state-run J.J. Hospital from the Taloja prison in neighbouring Navi Mumbai, after his blood sugar levels went up and he fell unconscious.
He was admitted to the ICU in J.J. Hospital and was discharged on January 22.
Following his discharge, his lawyers had moved the HC seeking an urgent hearing of his bail plea.
(With PTI Inputs)