The Supreme Court on Thursday made sharp observations that have left Mumbai Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh red-faced. While hearing Republic Media Network's plea against the witch-hunt launched by the Mumbai Police machinery led by Param Bir Singh, the apex court made a scathing observation raising concerns on the tendency of commissioners to hold press conferences.
Mumbai Police Commissioner's vindictive, malicious and vendetta driven press conferences against the Republic Media Network, do not appear to have gone unnoticed by the Honourable Supreme Court. Allowing Republic Media Network to approach the High Court, the top court frowned upon the interview spree of commissioners. The observation has come at a time when the Mumbai Police commissioner gave a series of news conferences and interviews the week earlier.
The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph observed that they are concerned about the fact that Police Commissioners are giving interviews to the media. Justice D Y Chandrachud, in a strong observation, said that the court is concerned that of late, Commissioners have the tendency of giving press interviews on ongoing cases.
Republic Media Network had moved the Supreme Court amid a malicious and vindictive attempt by the Mumbai Commissioner of Police to target the channel using the garb of an alleged TRP scam, over which Param Bir Singh had called a news conference last Thursday.
At the news conference, he had named Republic TV along with two Marathi news channels - Fakht Marathi and Box Cinema - as being the subject of the probe over which an FIR had been filed the day earlier. However, just six hours later, Republic Media Network accessed the FIR which made not one mention of Republic TV or any affiliate entity of the Republic Media Network.
The coercive and vindictive ways of the Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh have come under the notice of the Supreme Court. The blistering observation of the top court following Param Bir Singh’s ways, only stands to reaffirm the resolve against the brazen and blatant campaign of the Commissioner against an independent news channel that has been speaking truth to power.
The Mumbai Police has summoned members of the Republic Media Network and interrogated them for a total of over 30 hours. The CEO, COO, a senior member of the Distribution Team, the network's Executive Editor Niranjan Narayanaswamy as well as Senior Executive Editor Abhishek Kapoor have been subjected to Mumbai Police questioning.
An attempt has seemingly been made to wrest information about the network's sources. Republic stands against any strongarm tactics to try and access the sources of independent media, and has vowed to fight against any such effort in the courts of law.
Concurrent to the malicious action by Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh against Republic using a TRP manipulation case where the FIR doesn’t mention the channel, Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami was also issued a show-cause notice for raising questions over the Palghar lynching case and a massive gathering that had taken place amid the COVID lockdown in Mumbai's Bandra. The show-cause notice issued to Arnab Goswami is in complete violation of the Supreme Court as well as the Bombay High Court which had both passed orders on Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief's broadcast in both cases.
The Apex Court in its judgment dated May 19, 2020 held that no other complaint can be initiated in respect of the Palghar broadcast of 21 April 2020, whereas the Bombay High Court judgment of June 30, 2020, suspended all criminal proceedings with respect to the FIRs registered against Arnab Goswami, based on the Palghar and Bandra news reports.