MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court hearing the TRP scam case on Friday extended till March 5 the interim protection against coercive action granted to journalist Arnab Goswami and other employees of ARG Outlier Media that runs Republic TV channels.
The interim relief was extended after the high court adjourned the hearing on ARG’s plea challenging the investigation of Mumbai police in the TRP scam case.
Friday’s hearing was adjourned after the Maharashtra government’s counsel, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, pointed out that in its rejoinder affidavit filed last week to counter the police’s charge sheet, ARG had relied upon several new documents that were not part of its petition.
Sibal said that since he would need time to respond to the new documents, ARG’s counsel senior lawyer Harish Salve must not rely upon those documents during his day’s arguments.
Salve, however, insisted on relying upon those documents.
The court then adjourned the hearing after accepting Sibal’s statement that the interim protection granted to Goswami and the others will continue till the next date.
A bench of Justices S S Shinde and Manish Pitale said it will hear the plea through video-conferencing only for its interim prayer of protection on March 5.
The bench will hear ARG’s main prayers challenging the police’s investigation and seeking the transfer of probe to the CBI or any other independent agency, on March 16 via physical hearing.
Salve told the court that he had taken the vaccination for COVID 19 recently and was due for the next shot of the vaccine six weeks later.
Therefore, he will not be able to travel to attend the physical hearing.
The court then intervened on a lighter vein and asked the Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, when the judges and senior lawyers were likely to get the vaccine? “I am deviating, but Mr Singh (ASG), why is vaccination not happening for us also?” the bench asked.
ARG media and Goswami had approached the high court last year, filing a bunch of petitions seeking several reliefs in the TRP scam.
They alleged that the whole case was malafide and that they have been targeted for Republic TV’s reportage in the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, and the Palghar lynching case, last year.
Last month, the Mumbai police had filed two affidavits in the case through Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh, and ACP Shashank Sandbhor of the crime branch saying it had not targeted Republic TV or its employees.
The police had said its probe was not a result of any political vendetta.
The same HC bench on Friday adjourned another petition filed by Goswami, seeking to quash the case lodged against him in a 2018 abetment of suicide case.
This plea will also be heard on March 5.
Goswami and two others have been accused of abetting the suicide of an interior designer Anvay Naik.
The trio were arrested in the case and later released on bail.