TRP Scam Probe: ED has evidence against India Today, 4 other channels
The central agency has issued a 64-page Provisional Attachment Order under the PMLA Act which reportedly names India Today, News Nation, Box Cinema, Fakt Marathi and Maha Movie for allegedly paying off households with the Bar-o-meters to increase their TRPs.
In a major development in the Television Rating Points scam, the Enforcement Directorate has punched major holes in the Mumbai Police's contention in the case during the course of its money laundering angle probe.
The central agency has issued a 64-page Provisional Attachment Order under the PMLA Act which reportedly names India Today, News nation, Box Cinema, Fakt Marathi and Maha Movie for allegedly paying off households with the Bar-o-meters to increase their TRPs.
Even though the report goes on to name India Today over 50 times; not once is Republic TV named in the report.
To recall, Mumbai Police's entire investigation into the TRP scam revolves around the allegedly perceived involvement of Republic TV.
The Bombay High Court had rapped the Mumbai Police and the Maharashtra government on Thursday when it observed that it had not come across any incriminating evidence to arraign Republic TV.
The court also noted that the state government should issue a statement if the Mumbai Police had not found any incriminating evidence despite probing the case for over three months.
ED had on Thursday attached assets, including land, commercial and residential units in Mumbai, Indore, Delhi and Gurgaon and balances in the bank account, worth Rs 32 crore belonging to Fakt Marathi, Box Cinema and Maha Movies channels.
The action came after investigations revealed that the proceeds of crime for these channels is to the tune of Rs 46 crore.
ED officials have taken the statements of multiple households with bar-o-meters where they allegedly accepted having received money for watching certain channels.
The ED attachment order notes that at least 3 households specifically named India Today.
However, the biggest smoking gun in the entire TRP scam case is the ED revelation that the case complainant Nitin Deokar, deputy general manager at Hansa Research Group Private Limited, testified that a certain Vishal Bhandari had been paid Rs 5000 as commission and Rs 200 per household for convincing five panel houses to watch India Today for two hours.
The ED claims that relationship managers working at the Hansa Research Private Limited were paid money to induce households with bar-o-meters to watch the India Today channel.
The ED revelations come at a time when the Mumbai Police is already struggling to salvage its reputation in the backdrop of the arrest of police officer Sachin Vaze in connection with the 'Antilia' bomb scare and the murder of Thane based business Mansukh Hiran.